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.
Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu, a handsome, charismatic figure who spent nearly two decades on the Israeli political stage, quietly and with dignity announced his intention to step aside from political life Monday after being trounced in his bid for re-election.
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.
As Israel’s fourth prime minister in four years begins to stitch together a new parliamentary coalition, some American Jewish leaders are cautiously optimistic that Ehud Barak will fulfill campaign promises and usher in a new era of religious pluralism in the Jewish state.
by Lawrence Cohler-Esses
Just one day after his landslide victory, aides to Israel’s newly elected prime minister put one of American Jewry’s key pro-Israel groups on notice.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, organized Jewry’s pro-Israel Washington lobby, “has been less than wise in several of their endeavors over the last few years,” Alon Pinkus, Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak’s spokesman, said Tuesday.
Benjamin Netanyahu, dubbed by the Israeli press as “the most vilified prime minister ever,” is battling for his political life in Monday’s election and his opponents — and even some supporters — smell blood.
Limor Livnat, the cabinet minister directing Netanyahu’s media campaign, reportedly was preparing to challenge Netanyahu for leadership of the Likud Party should he lose. And Netanyahu was said to be ready to fire Livnat if he does not receive more than 50 percent of the vote and is forced into a June 1 runoff election.