By a vote of 180 to 5, Iraqi legislators OK'd Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's cabinet nominees, ending months of political stalemate that has given terrorists new momentum. Still, the cabinet was being described as "partial" since Jaafari had yet to name permanent choices to head the defense, oil, human rights, electricity, and industry ministries. None of his choices represents the party of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Although the defense ministry was expected to go to a Sunni Muslim, senior politicians from the Sunni ranks vowed not to accept just anyone who was "imposed" on them.
Amid the pomp of his official visit to Israel - the first by a Kremlin leader - Russian President Vladimir Putin was encouraged to "feel among brothers." But although he came, in part, to promote a proposed new Middle East peace conference that would be held in Moscow, Putin was put in the position of defending his government's transfer of nuclear technology to Iran and planned sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, both sworn enemies of Israel. He said Russia is sensitive to Israeli security concerns.
Without singling out specific organizations, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened the use of force against violators of the cease-fire with Israel. In a speech to police units, Abbas used his toughest language to date, telling them: "Whoever wants to sabotage the truce with rocket fire or shooting must be stopped by us." He also said of Israel's withdrawal this summer from the Gaza Strip: "We have to give them a calm departure."
Embattled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won a vital vote of confidence in Italy's Senate one week after resigning to avoid the collapse of his government. The vote was 170 to 117 and followed earlier approval by the lower house of parliament. It clears the way for his reshuffled government to assume office until a mandatory election next year.
Under intense pressure, Mexican President Vicente Fox fired his attorney general to try to prevent a looming political crisis. Fox said Rafael Macedo's replacement would review a controversial contempt-of-court case against Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the front-runner in opinion polls for the presidency in next year's election. Macedo had led a campaign to send the case to trial. Lopez Obrador would be barred from running if he were found guilty. While his case has been in limbo, Mexico's stock index has plunged by more than 10 percent.