The Israeli political landscape was rocked again this week with the surprise announcement from Ariel Sharon that he had reached a tentative agreement to bring the Likud Party of defeated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into the new coalition government.
Just last week, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Aryeh Deri, stunned the nation by giving up his post at the insistence of Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak. Barak had demanded that Deri, who was convicted in April of corruption, step aside before Shas could discuss joining his coalition.
The surprise resignation of Shas Party leader Aryeh Deri Tuesday evening came as Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak was on the verge of assembling a minority government after hitting a stone wall in his attempt to form a broad based coalition.
As he works to cobble together a coalition government, Ehud Barak signaled the role he believes religion should play in the Jewish state when he included in his One Israel bloc a Modern Orthodox party, Meimad.
“We believe there is no contradiction between a religious state and a democracy in Israel,” said Rabbi Yehuda Gilad, a dean of Yeshiva Ma’ale Gilboa and a member of Meimad.
By winning a landslide victory this week, Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak has been given a mandate greater than any of his recent predecessors to forge a lasting peace in the Middle East and to heal the divisive rifts that have polarized Israeli society.
Former Defense Minister Yitzchak Mordechai was not “fully aware of the impact” of his Knesset vote last week in favor of a bill designed to keep Reform and Conservative representatives off of Israel’s religious councils, according to his running mate on the new centrist party.
“He was not aware,” insisted former Israeli Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak in an interview here with The Jewish Week just hours after he called Mordechai for an explanation.
Even before new elections were a certainty this week, Labor Party posters touting their chief, Ehud Barak, began appearing in Israel reading: “One Israel for everyone and not for the extremists.”
Barak, a former army chief of staff who once served as foreign minister, has already hired American media gurus, including James Carville, who gained prominence helping Bill Clinton to the White House. It is clear from Labor’s new slogan that it will portray Netanyahu as too closely aligned with right-wing extremists.
Philadelphia — They were there to celebrate George W. Bush and all things Republican, but the New York delegates at the party’s national convention here seemed to be thinking as much about the state’s U.S. Senate race as the presidential duel.
Many in that contingent wore anti-Hillary Clinton buttons. Some appeared even more intent in working to defeat the first lady in her Senate bid than in trying to elect Bush, whom few expect to take New York State in November.
The second time, it turns out, was the charm for Eliot Spitzer. After finishing last in a four-way primary for attorney general four years ago, the Manhattan millionaire lawyer handily defeated his three opponents in the Democratic primary for the same seat Tuesday and immediately set his sights on unseating incumbent Republican Dennis Vacco.
The Israeli government shook this week and observers wondered how much longer it could stand.
Early Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz abruptly resigned over his handling of last summer’s war with Hezbollah. Just hours earlier, the state’s prosecutor ordered a criminal investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert into his role in the 2005 privatization of an Israeli bank. The Israeli press reported Monday that a rape indictment against Israeli President Moshe Katsav was imminent.
David Paterson, who takes over as governor in the wake of Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal, has worked for years to forge black-Jewish relations and is seen as a legislative bridge-builder, in sharp contrast to his former boss.
The Spitzer revelations have thrust the 53-year-old former state senator from Harlem into arguably the toughest gubernatorial job in the country. He becomes the state’s first black governor and the first with a handicap — he is legally blind.