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Romanian prime minister resigns amid protests

BERLIN — After weeks of protests, Romania’s prime minister resigned Monday, the latest European leader to fall victim to a mood of public outrage over austerity measures and stagnant growth.

Thousands of Romanians took to the streets across the country last month to protest austerity measures. The prime minister, Emil Boc, said Monday that he was stepping down because “it is important to have stability.”

The president, Traian Basescu, named the current justice minister, Catalin Predoiu, as interim prime minister. After a meeting Monday afternoon with leaders from the main political parties, Basescu announced that he was nominating Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, a former foreign minister who now leads Romania’s foreign-intelligence service, as Boc’s successor, pending parliamentary approval.

Basescu said negotiations would begin Tuesday for the appointment of a new government.

Parliamentary elections were already scheduled for later this year, by law no later than November, and the government’s approval rating had fallen below 20 percent in recent opinion surveys.

—Nicholas Kulish, The New York Times

Palestinian factions reach unity deal

JERUSALEM — President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority embraced reconciliation with the Islamist movement Hamas on Monday, agreeing to head a unity government to prepare for elections in the West Bank and Gaza.

His move was welcomed cautiously by a broad range of Palestinians who are fed up with the brutal split at the heart of their national movement. It promised to upend Israeli-Palestinian relations, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning Abbas that he could have peace with Israel, or unity with Hamas, but not both.

The agreement between Abbas, the leader of Fatah, and Khaled Meshal, the head of Hamas, was yet another convulsion in the Middle East involving the rise of political Islam and the challenge it poses to pro-Western forces. It put Israel, which is nervously watching the new order taking shape around it, further on edge.

“Hamas is an enemy of peace,” Netanyahu said. “It’s an Iranian-backed terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction.”

On Sunday, he told his Cabinet that for Israel, living in the Middle East required self-sufficiency and toughness.

—Ethan Bronner, The New York Times

Obama to return donations tied to Mexican fugitive

Two American brothers of a Mexican casino magnate who fled drug and fraud charges in the United States and has been seeking a pardon enabling him to return have emerged as major fundraisers and donors for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

The casino owner, Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, known as Pepe, jumped bail in Iowa in 1994 and disappeared, and has since been linked to violence and corruption in Mexico. A State Department cable in 2009 said he was suspected of orchestrating the assassination of a business rival and making illegal campaign donations to Mexican officials.

When The New York Times asked the Obama campaign early Monday about the Cardonas, officials said they were unaware of the brother in Mexico. Later in the day, the campaign said it was refunding the money raised by the family, which totaled more than $200,000.

—Mike McIntire, The New York Times