- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

ISRAEL

Mofaz warns Hamas after kidnap threat

JERUSALEM — Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said yesterday that a threat by the group Hamas to kidnap Israeli soldiers has strengthened Israel’s resolve to go after Islamic militant leaders.

Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, said on Friday that there was “no solution for the issue of Palestinian prisoners except capturing soldiers of the enemy and exchanging them for ours.”

According to a senior Israeli official, Mr. Mofaz told a weekly Cabinet meeting: “Yassin’s statement makes it more imperative for Israel to attack the heads of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.” Mr. Mofaz stopped short of threatening Sheik Yassin by name.

BRITAIN

Entire BBC board considered quitting

LONDON — The British Broadcasting Corp.’s entire board of governors considered quitting after a judge repudiated a BBC story that the government had “sexed up” intelligence on Iraq, the broadcaster’s former chief executive said yesterday.

Greg Dyke, whose resignation on Thursday as the BBC’s director general prompted rallies by hundreds of supportive employees, said on the network’s “Breakfast with Frost” program that he had urged the board members not to step down.

They “discussed whether they should all go,” Mr. Dyke said. “I urged them not to all go. You can’t have a BBC with nobody there.”

HAITI

Aristide opponents hold peaceful march

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Tens of thousands of government opponents marched peacefully yesterday to demand President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s resignation.

The protesters walked nearly 10 miles from a park in suburban Petionville to the capital, Port-au-Prince, protected by a contingent of police.

On Saturday, Mr. Aristide rescinded a police order outlawing marches in Port-Au-Prince after a one-day meeting with Caribbean leaders in Jamaica, who put forth measures to end a three-year political impasse in Haiti.

Mr. Aristide agreed in Jamaica to disarm politically affiliated gangs, reform the police force and implement other measures to end the country’s recent unrest.

ISRAEL

One child in four is born to Muslims

JERUSALEM — Almost one in four Israeli children is Muslim, the government said yesterday, reflecting fears among Jews that they could be outnumbered by Arabs in the near future.

According to a Central Bureau of Statistics report based on figures from 2002, 24 percent of Israelis under age 16 are Muslim. Seventy-one percent are Jewish, and the rest are from other Arab sectors or are unaffiliated, the CBS said.

“The annual average growth rate of the Muslim population in Israel in recent years is 2.4 times higher than that of the Jewish population,” the report said, citing a record-high birth rate among Israeli Muslims.

NORWAY

Bush, Blair appear on peace prize list

OSLO — President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the European Union were among known nominees for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize as the nomination deadline expired yesterday.

The five-member Norwegian awards committee, which keeps the names of candidates secret, accepts nominations postmarked by Feb. 1. Last year, there were a record 165 nominations for the prize.

The committee keeps the nomination list secret, but those making the nominations often announce their candidates.

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