Briefly: Syria OKs peace plan but bloodshed persists

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The race between current Kadima Party chief Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz was expected to be close.

Whoever wins will face the difficult task of trying to wrest power from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader has been riding high in polls, with Kadima tumbling in popularity.

Ms. Livni, 53, served as foreign minister in the previous government.

Mr. Mofaz, 63, was chief of the Israeli military.

TURKEY

Protesters denounce education reform bill

ANKARA — Thousands of people have joined a Turkish opposition rally denouncing a government education reform bill they say is designed to boost the influence of Islamic schools.

The protest was staged Tuesday hours before parliament began debate on the proposal. The bill would extend compulsory education to 12 years from the current eight and pave the way for middle-school students to attend Islamic schools.

The bill reverses a military-imposed move dating to 1997 that closed down religious middle schools, allowing only high school students to attend such institutions.

The issue is so controversial that a legislative committee meeting earlier this month saw a record 12-hour filibuster by a Turkish legislator and ended in scuffles.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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