- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2005

ISRAEL

Palestinians warned against Gaza attacks

JERUSALEM — Israel will launch a massive ground operation if Palestinian militants fire on Israeli soldiers and settlers during this month’s Gaza pullout, the deputy defense minister said yesterday.

With such a scenario, the evacuation of settlers would be halted for 10 to 14 days while Israeli forces occupy Palestinian towns near the Jewish settlements, Zeev Boim said.

Mr. Boim told Israeli radio that the massive ground operation would be on the scale of the Defensive Shield offensive of 2002, in which Israel reoccupied West Bank towns after a series of suicide bombings.

JAPAN

Postal bill showdown worries ruling party

TOKYO — The ruling Liberal Democratic Party could lose snap elections if contested postal reform bills don’t go through parliament this week, a senior party leader said yesterday.

An upper house vote on the legislation, the core of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s reform platform that is vehemently opposed by LDP rebels, is expected later this week, although analysts and some politicians say the timing could slip.

Mr. Koizumi has said a rejection of his bid to privatize the postal delivery, savings and insurance system — including the world’s biggest bank — would amount to a vote of no confidence in his leadership, a veiled threat to call a general election.

SYRIA

Uneasy neighbors to smooth relations

DAMASCUS — Lebanon and Syria agreed yesterday to ease their tense ties during a visit by Fouad Siniora, Lebanon’s first prime minister to be elected since Syria ended its 29-year military presence in April.

“The two sides reaffirmed anew their commitment to work to build Syrian-Lebanese relations based on mutual respect,” said a joint statement by Mr. Siniora and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“The brotherly countries are eager to deepen cooperation and interaction … within the framework of the sovereignty and independence of both.”

NIGER

U.N. feeding plans more than doubled

TAHOUA — The United Nations has more than doubled the number of people it plans to feed in Niger as dwindling food supplies in villages bring people closer to the brink of starvation.

The U.N. World Food Program now aims to provide emergency rations to 2.5 million people compared with the 1.2 million it said it aimed to help last week.

“More and more people’s coping mechanisms are running short,” said WFP spokeswoman Stefanie Savariaud. “In this kind of emergency operation, it’s inevitable that the number of beneficiaries increases.”

ZIMBABWE

Government refuses to invite white farmers

HARARE — Zimbabwe will not invite back white farmers whose land was seized despite calls by the central bank chief to allow them to help the struggling agriculture sector, the state press reported.

“The land here is for the black people, and we are not going to give it back to anybody. We are not inviting any white farmers back,” Security Minister Didymus Mutasa told the state-owned Sunday Mail.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has urged the government to allow some white farmers back onto farms seized over the past four years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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