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.
In a last-ditch effort to block Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from being able to form a new government after the Jan. 28 election, Labor Party leaders pledged this week not to rejoin him in another unity government.
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.
Elie Wiesel, who until now has scrupulously stayed out of politics, endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton Monday at a press conference here in which the two criticized the Palestinian Authority for continuing to publish anti-Semitic school textbooks that promote the hatred of Jews.
It was after 5 p.m. and almost all of the television cameras, newspaper reporters and photographers had left the waterfront Bellport, L.I., home of Regina Seltzer last Wednesday when Rep. Carolyn McCarthy called from Washington to extend congratulations after Seltzer's apparent upset primary victory over Rep. Michael Forbes.
"How's it going?" asked fellow Democrat McCarthy.
"I think you know how it's going because you went through this once too,"Seltzer said, referring to McCarthyís own 1996 upset victory over Republican incumbent Dan Frisa.
Two Jewish incumbents survived challenges in Tuesday's Democratic congressional primaries, while in a stunning upset, a Long Island representative with a strong pro-Israel record appears to have been ousted, and a Jewish Democrat has been nominated to succeed Republican Senate candidate Rick Lazio.
An Israeli court has issued a temporary injunction barring the Foreign Ministry from removing its consul general in New York, Shmuel Sisso, pending a hearing. Sisso went to court after learning from his wife of the planned removal. She had heard it on Israel radio while vacationing in Israel. "I had been informed by the Foreign Ministry that I was staying," said Sisso.
"They had completed 99 percent of the paperwork, and they had already paid my children's tuition for the coming school year."