THE MIDDLE EAST

Patriarch: Make Peace or Resign

JERUSALEM -- The head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land urged Palestinian and Israeli leaders yesterday to make peace or quit, and said Christmas celebrations must go ahead in Bethlehem despite Israel's military occupation.

In the latest violence, witnesses said, Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian youth in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after a crowd of young people ignored orders to disperse. Israeli military sources said soldiers were responding to Palestinians shooting at them.

In a sign of the growing frustration with more than two years of violence, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah leveled unusually direct criticism at the leaders of both sides at a news conference in Jerusalem.

"If present leaders do not succeed in making peace, there is only one solution: Open the way to other leaders, perhaps they will succeed better where the present ones have failed," Sabbah, a Palestinian, said in his annual Christmas message.

Christmas festivities have been overshadowed by Israel's reoccupation of Bethlehem, celebrated by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus, after a suicide bombing last month killed 11 Israelis on a Jerusalem bus.

Reuters

THE AMERICAS

Executive Held in Adoption Probe

BUENOS AIRES -- The president of Argentina's largest media conglomerate has been detained while a judge investigates whether she adopted children taken from dissidents during the 1976-83 military dictatorship.

A federal judge ordered Ernestina Herrera de Noble, 77, whose Clarin group includes Argentina's largest newspaper, arrested late Tuesday. She was still in jail yesterday after the judge postponed her scheduled court appearance without setting a new date.

Police and court officials said Judge Roberto Marquevich was probing the identities of two children believed to have been born in secret detention centers during the military's reign. He wants to know if two children adopted by Herrera de Noble were born to jailed dissidents, judicial and police officials said.

Arte Grafico Editorial Argentino, a company within the Clarin group, called Herrera de Noble's detention "abusive" and "illegal."

Argentine judges are investigating whether there was a systematic plan for the illicit adoption of more than 200 children born to captive dissidents during the military's campaign against leftists and political opponents. The children's mothers are among at least 9,000 Argentines who vanished during the "dirty war." Human rights groups say the figure is closer to 30,000.

Associated Press

For the Record

An Indian court sentenced three men to death for their roles in a deadly attack on Parliament last year that brought India to the brink of war with Pakistan. The defendants, all Indian citizens from the disputed region of Kashmir, were sentenced under a new law that describes any aid to terrorists as terrorism, a capital offense. . . . Two U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter were in stable condition one day after being injured in a grenade attack in Kabul, a military spokeswoman said.