As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly courts pro-settler nationalists in his bid for re-election May 17, some of his biggest American supporters on the ideological right are either abandoning him or saying they are open to other candidates.
As he visits Israel this week for the second time in four months, President George W. Bush has scaled down his expectations for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Instead of the optimism he displayed late last year when he spoke of the creation of a Palestinian state before he left office, Bush told Israeli journalists Monday that he was hoping the two sides could “get a state defined by the end of my presidency.”
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s future could lie in the hands of a millionaire Long Island rabbi and businessman who is reportedly set to testify as early as this week that he gave bribes to Olmert while Olmert served as Jerusalem’s mayor from 1999 to 2002.
Israelís peace movement, largely dormant since Ariel Sharon was first elected prime minister three years ago, resurfaced last weekend amid calls for a political framework for peace and withdrawal from a contentious settlement in Gaza.
An estimated 4,000 Israelis took to the street Saturday night to protest Sharon's policies in a demonstration outside his Jerusalem residence.
Naomi Chazan, a former Knesset member from the left-wing Meretz Party and one of the participants, said this was the first major demonstration against Sharon.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came under fire at home this week for allegedly disregarding Palestinian civilians in its zeal to combat terrorists, and from the United Nations, which called upon Israel to remove its security barrier that Arabs call a land grab.
The controversy within Israel arose after the Israeli military launched one of the largest series of air strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Five air strikes were conducted against suspected Palestinian terrorists and a weapons factory in Gaza City.
Israel mounted a major public relations and military offensive this week both to deny Palestinian charges that it was responsible for the Gaza beach explosion that killed eight civilians last Friday and to answer a barrage of Kassam rockets Hamas fired into southern Israel following the beach deaths.
For the first time, a son of Safed is prime minister. All right, so Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is the Palestinian prime minister, but Israelís fate is in his hands as much as anyoneís. When he insists that peace depends on Israel recognizing the Arab right of return, heís talking about himself and heís talking about Safed.
As the Labor Party reaffirmed its intention to stay out of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new government, the chairman of the secular Shinui Party spoke of joining: and for the first time softened his demand that government handouts end for fervently Orthodox men who don't work.
"You have to do it gradually," Shinui leader Tommy Lapid told The Jewish Week. "We don't want to cause unnecessary suffering to large families. But people who are able-bodied men should go and work.
Despite his decisive victory Tuesday, Ariel Sharon still finds himself in a vise: caught between his desire not to form a right-wing government that would hamstring his ability to deal with American peace demands and an Israeli public convinced that the time is not ripe to pursue peace.
Couple that with the electorate's crippling blow to the Israeli left and the strong showing of the anti-religious Shinui Party, and this election could pave the way for changes in the country's social fabric.
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.
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