World Briefs: Israeli centrist party members threaten new coalition

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ISRAEL

The Kadima party could lose a large faction of lawmakers because of its leader’s decision to join the Israeli government, The Washington Times has learned.

In a phone interview Thursday, Kadima lawmaker Shlomo Molla said “more than seven” of the party’s 28 Knesset members were prepared to bolt if there is not a “dramatic change” in the government’s policies “before the end of June.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a deal with new Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz to bring the large centrist party into his coalition, which is dominated by the Likud party and other right-wing blocs.

The pact nullified Mr. Netanyahu’s call just two days earlier for early elections, and all but ensured that his government would serve until October 2013, when its term expires.

EUROPEAN UNION

Parliament backs curb on roaming fees

BRUSSELS — The European Parliament on Thursday approved a clampdown on mobile network operators to protect consumers from paying excessive prices for using their phones and tablet computers abroad.

In a 578-10 vote with 10 abstentions, the legislature backed a deal to make it cheaper to make phone calls, download email and use the Internet when abroad in other EU countries.

The caps on fees will take effect July 1 at the start of the European summer vacation season, when many vacationers all too often are the unwitting victims of overspending on high roaming costs only to find out when the bill comes in later.

ALGERIA

Vote touted as fair, but voters apathetic

ALGIERS — As parliamentary elections unfolded across Algeria on Thursday, voting appeared to be light for much of day in the capital, despite the contests being billed as the freest in 20 years.

A coalition of Islamist parties is hoping to replicate the election successes of other Islamists across North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings of 2011, but they face stiff competition from two government parties with entrenched networks.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika spent the past several months urging Algerians to come out and vote, alternating promises of bold new reforms after elections with warnings that foreign powers might invade Algeria if there is a low turnout.

No party is expected to dominate the parliament, though the real question will be whether the turnout surpasses the anemic 35 percent of 2007.

JORDAN

U.S. allocates $40 million for victims of Syrian crisis

AMMAN — A U.S. State Department official responsible for refugees said Washington has allocated $40 million to assist relief organizations aiding victims of the Syrian crisis.

Anne Richard, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration, said the money will be funneled through international and local agencies inside Syria and in surrounding countries, including Jordan.

She said Palestinians and Iraqis in Syria will also benefit.

YEMEN

Airstrikes kill 7 al Qaeda terrorists

SANAA — Two airstrikes Thursday in south Yemen killed seven al Qaeda terrorists, including two top operatives, officials said.

The attacks could be another setback for al Qaeda, coming just days after details emerged about a Saudi mole within the network who reportedly provided information allowing the CIA to target a key leader of Yemen’s terror branch.

The United States has usually used drones to strike al Qaeda in Yemen. Yemeni officials said one of the raids was carried out by a drone but provided no details on the other.

The first, predawn strike Thursday killed five militants, hitting a house on the western outskirts of Jaar where they were staying and completely leveling the structure.

One of those killed was a senior member of the terror network in charge of armament, known by his moniker al-Galadi, Yemeni officials said.

The second airstrike hit in Shaqra, killing two militants. Yemeni officials said one of those killed was al Qaeda’s second-in-command for Lawder, a town further north.

UNITED KINGDOM

Off-duty police, public workers strike

LONDON — Thousands of off-duty police officers marched through London on Thursday in a demonstration about pay and budget cuts, while tens of thousands of British public-sector workers walked off the job to protest the government’s proposed changes to pension plans.

Union leaders said more than 400,000 civil servants, border, prison and other workers joined the protests before the controversial reforms, but the government said only 100,000 civil servants had taken part in what it called a futile effort.

Joining the strike were border staff at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, where passengers were warned of possible delays.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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