- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007


Olmert weathers 3 no-trust votes

JERUSALEM — Embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert weathered three motions of no-confidence in parliament yesterday, the latest backlash over a scathing inquiry into his handling of the Lebanon war last summer.

The Knesset rejected the three motions by votes of 61, 61 and 62 against, compared with 26, 28 and 28 for — a comfortable margin in the chamber, which requires a simple majority of those present to pass or reject a motion.

Abstentions in the three votes were 9, 9 and 6.

The counts revealed fault lines within Mr. Olmert’s 78-member coalition in the 120-seat parliament. At least 16 members were either absent, voted against the government or abstained.


Parliament backs election reform

ANKARA — Turkey’s parliament gave initial approval yesterday to a constitutional amendment to make the presidency a popularly elected post. The Islamist-rooted ruling Justice and Development Party moved the reforms after secularist opposition parties boycotted a parliamentary vote and prevented Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul from becoming president.

The state-run Anatolian news agency said 356 deputies out of 550 members voted for the reform, part of a package that must be debated and approved a second time before it can be sent to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer to sign into law.

Mr. Gul withdrew his candidacy for the presidency on Sunday under pressure from the opposition, army, courts and protesters, and the government called for early elections in July.


Suicide bombers kill 13 in Ramadi

BAGHDAD — Suicide bombers killed 13 persons in a pair of attacks across the Sunni city of Ramadi yesterday in what local officials said was part of a power struggle between al Qaeda and tribes that have broken with the terror network.

At least 68 persons were killed or found dead nationwide yesterday, police said. They included the bullet-riddled bodies of 30 men found in Baghdad, the apparent victims of sectarian death squads.

The Ramadi attacks occurred in areas controlled by the Anbar Salvation Council, an alliance of Sunni tribes formed last year to drive al Qaeda from the area. Council officials blamed the attacks on al Qaeda.


King Herod’s tomb found, university says

JERUSALEM — An Israeli university announced yesterday the discovery of the grave and tomb of Herod the Great, the Roman Empire’s “king of the Jews” in ancient Judea.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem said the discovery was made at Herodium, where Herod’s hilltop fortress palace once stood about seven miles from the holy city where he had rebuilt and expanded the Jewish Temple.

The university said it would give further details today.

The Gospel of Matthew says Herod ordered the “Massacre of the Innocents,” the killing of all young male children in Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem out of fear that he would lose his throne to a new “king of the Jews,” whose birth had been related to him by the magi.


U.S. hands over al Qaeda figure

RIYADH — U.S. authorities have handed over to Saudi Arabia an al Qaeda figure who escaped from prison in Afghanistan and was recaptured, the Interior Ministry said yesterday.

Mohammad Jaafar al-Qahtani, a Saudi, was one of four al Qaeda figures who escaped in 2005 from a U.S. prison at Bagram in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces have been hunting al Qaeda since 2001.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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