With the resignation of Foreign Minister David Levy from his government this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unsheathing his final, and perhaps strongest, weapon for staying in power: the opposition Labor Party.
Even as some among those remaining in his government threatened to bring it down if he ceded any more West Bank territory to Palestinian control, others vowed to do so if he did not.
The conviction of Haim Ramon, former Israeli justice minister, on an indecency charge this week, may lead to a shakeup of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s coalition government and a re-examination of the country’s sexual harassment laws, Israeli politicians said.
Ramon, 56, a close ally of Olmert, was found guilty Wednesday by Tel Aviv’s Magistrate Court for forcibly kissing a 21-year-old soldier at a party six months ago. He faces three years in jail, and is expected to appeal the verdict.
With Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party seen cruising to victory in Tuesday's national election, political pundits speculated on how Sharon was going to form the unity government he prefers with the Labor Party, whose leader has vowed to remain in opposition.
As Israelis buried their dead following back-to-back Palestinian suicide bombings Sunday in Tel Aviv that killed 22 bystanders (seven of them foreign workers) political campaign commercials began running on Israel TV Tuesday night and analysts wondered how the terror attack and new political scandals would impact the Jan. 28 national election.
Charges that members of the Likud Partyís Central Committee sold their votes for cash and other favors in this month's primary (and to a lesser extent allegations of voting irregularities in the Labor Party primary) have rocked the Israeli electorate, with one poll showing that one-fifth of Israelis plan to change their vote because of it.