The future of the once-dominant Labor Party as a major player in Israeli politics is at stake as party voters go to the polls Tuesday to select their candidate in January’s general election.
An internal Labor Party poll placed Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna ahead of his nearest challenger, former Defense Minister and Labor Party chairman Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, by 18 percent. The third candidate in the race, veteran politician Haim Ramon, trailed Mitzna by 30 percent.
Pembroke Pines, Fla. — Sen. Joseph Lieberman sounded an ominous warning last week when he told The Jewish Week that Sen. John Kerry’s failure to speak substantively about Israel during campaign appearances here had weakened his support among Jewish Democrats.
“I was here two or three weeks ago and this question came up a few times, not from the media [but] from people,” said Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat.
“Why isn’t he talking about Israel?” he said voters wanted to know.
When Ariel Sharon returns to Israel at the end of this week, he will face what could be his most challenging two weeks as prime minister as he attempts to persuade his Likud Party to adopt his disengagement plan in a May 2 referendum.
Sharon hopes to use the commitments he won this week from President George W. Bush as leverage to garner support for the plan. But Shaul Goldstein, mayor of the regional council of the Gush Etzion bloc just south of Jerusalem, said that may backfire.
The national debate in Israel over the propriety of defending isolated settlements is expected to intensify after the Passover holiday as more than 200,000 Likud Party members are asked to approve Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was to unveil his new cabinet this week in a move to solidify his strength in the Kadima Party and herald a new era after a year of crises, while the opposition Likud Party advanced the date of its own primary and the Labor Party selected Ehud Barak as its candidate for prime minister in the next election.
Israeli President Moshe Katsav suspended himself this week to fight sex charges, including rape, that the state’s senior law officer planned to file. But some government officials and the media said that wasn’t good enough and called for the president’s immediate resignation or ouster.
“In the present situation it is impossible to educate students to respect the presidential institution and ask them to hang pictures in every school of a president charged with grave offenses,” Education Minister Yuli Tamir was quoted as saying.
John Faso, the Republican and Conservative nominee for governor, acknowledges that he is fighting an uphill battle against his popular Democratic opponent, Eliot Spitzer. But he told The Jewish Week that should there be a Democratic sweep Nov. 7, it would inevitably spell "much higher taxes" for New Yorkers.
The leader of the far-right party in Belgium, Filip Dewinter, failed in his bid to become mayor of Antwerp after his Flemish Interest party came second, capturing 20 of the 55-seats in the city council.
They may have their differences, but “Tikkun olam,” Hebrew for repairing the world, was the one phrase both Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green used in why they want Democratic voters to support them in Tuesday’s primary to be New York’s attorney general.
“Every day since I left law school I have been a people’s lawyer and public advocate,” Green said. “I live my professional life according to the classic ‘tikkun olam,’ and this is not just an election year slogan. It is a mirror of my life.”