Amid War Questions, Olmert Seen Vulnerable

Staff Writers
With a cease-fire in place since Monday after 32 days of fighting, finger pointing has begun in Israel over the conduct of the war, with some questioning whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his government will be able to survive the close scrutiny to which it will be subjected.

Kadima Running Stronger Than Ever

Staff Writer
As the family of Ariel Sharon played a recording of his grandson's voice in an effort to wake him from a coma, members of the Kadima Party he founded selected Ehud Olmert as his successor and polls showed Kadima with an ever widening lead. "What seems important is that Kadima hasn't begun to deflate," said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "If anything, the opposite is happening."

In Sickness And In Health?

Staff Writer and Israel Correspondent
Although his Labor Party opponents insisted this week they would not make an issue of Ariel Sharon's health as he campaigns for re-election in March, the minor stroke that left the prime minister temporarily incoherent Sunday is certain to be on voter's minds.

Party Jockeying As Contact Sport

Staff Writer
As members of the Labor, Likud and Shinui parties defected to join Ariel Sharon's new centrist Kadima Party this week, Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz accused the prime minister of acting as though it were "the season for trading soccer players, where everyone moves from one side to another." One of the biggest defections to Kadima (that of Israelís elder statesman and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres from the Labor Party) was anticipated Wednesday.

Likud Stresses Unity In Wake Of Peretz

Staff Writer
Likud Party leaders decided Wednesday to unite in the face of Amir Peretz's election as Labor Party leader, a move that some fear could be a serious challenge if he draws votes from Likud's traditional Sephardi base. Likud leaders stressed that their party must remain united after Likud primary elections that are expected to take place early next year. Not only does Peretz pose a potential strong challenge to their leadership, but Likud said in a statement that he has "radical plans, which would jeopardize Israel's security and economy."

Early Elections Seen As 'Inevitable'

Staff Writer
Even as Labor voters went to the polls Wednesday to select the party's next leader, Israelis appeared to be paying more attention to speculation that there might be early general elections and that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon might bolt Likud to form a new party. There was concern, too, that a victory for Histadrut Labor Federation chief Amir Peretz (the strongest challenger to incumbent Labor Party leader Shimon Peres for the chairmanship) would precipitate early elections because Peretz had pledged to immediately pull Labor out of Sharon's coalition government.

From Mineola To Albany?

Staff Writer
Looking out at all of the men in the audience wearing yarmulkes at the Board of Jewish Education's conference room in Manhattan, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said he knew they would understand when he compared his Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign against Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as a "case of David versus Goliath."

Olmert Seen Limping Already

Staff Writer
As Ehud Olmert takes the office of prime minister in his own right this week with a coalition government ready to implement his withdrawal from much of the West Bank, debate is rising over the wisdom of such a move and his selection of ministers. "This government is very weak and in trouble before it is even sworn in," observed Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University.

Israel Gets New 'Eyes' On Iran

Staff Writer
Israel's launch Tuesday of a satellite to spy on Iran's nuclear development program was seen as another step in improving its defense capabilities in the face of a renewed threat Monday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to destroy the Jewish state. The latest threat from the Iranian leader came as Jews worldwide paused to remember the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered by the Nazis.

It's Not The Economy

Staff Writer
In his campaign to win election as the next prime minister, Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz is stressing the economy and his goal of reversing Israel's growing rate of poverty and income gap. But even his staunchest ally concedes he has an uphill battle. "In Israel, unfortunately, people donít vote based on socio-economic conditions," said Ofer Eini, who in January succeeded Peretz as chairman of the Histadrut Labor Union.
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