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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he welcomed the panel’s work, saying he would bring its conclusions to a special forum he established on the matter where a decision would be made.

If endorsed, the recommendations could give Mr. Netanyahu ammunition to support new settlement activity and fend off pressure from a Supreme Court that has ordered the government to take action against the existing outposts.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Rebels retreat after taking key town

KINSHASA — Congo’s newest rebel group retreated from the strategic town of Rutshuru on Monday and headed into the mountain gorilla haven of Virunga National Park, where an official said heavy bombing is preventing rangers from protecting the critically endangered primates.

“M23 have infiltrated this area and the armed forces have pulled back … so most of Rutshuru [district] appears to be under M23 control,” park director Emmanuel de Merode said. Leader Sultani Makenga said his men were retreating as they waited to hear if the government is ready to negotiate their demands over the March 2009 peace deal that had paved the way for them to join the army.

U.N. peacekeepers supporting Congo’s army have deployed helicopter gunships to bomb rebel positions, one of the mission’s spokesman, Alex Essome, said.

But Congo’s ill-equipped and ill-paid army appears no match for the rebels, who took Rutshuru on Sunday and Rumangabo on Monday.

GREAT BRITAIN

Church of England stalls on female bishops

LONDON — The Church of England on Monday put off a final decision on allowing women to serve as bishops because of continuing disagreements between contending factions.

The action by the church’s General Synod to adjourn debate means that the issue will not come up again until November.

The decision to adjourn “gives us at least the chance of lowering the temperature and explaining ourselves to each other,” Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said.

The Church of England ordained its first women as priests in 1994. Since then, women have moved into senior positions including cathedral deans and archdeacons, but have been blocked from becoming bishops.

From wire dispatches and staff reports