Israel mounted a major public relations and military offensive this week both to deny Palestinian charges that it was responsible for the Gaza beach explosion that killed eight civilians last Friday and to answer a barrage of Kassam rockets Hamas fired into southern Israel following the beach deaths.
Even as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave Hamas extra time to decide whether to accept the so-called "prisoners' document" as the basis for renewed talks with Israel, Israeli analysts were predicting further Palestinian anarchy and an all-out civil war.
"I don't see a way to overcome this crisis without engaging in a civil war," said Moshe Eldad, a researcher at the Shmuel Neeman Institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
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'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.
by Stewart Ain And Joshua Mitnick |
Staff Writer and Israel Correspondent
The Palestinian suicide attack that killed nine and injured more than 50 Monday at a Tel Aviv shwarma shop (the deadliest attack in more than a year) was widely seen as hardening the resolve of much of the world against the Hamas government and could ultimately lead to its collapse as leader of the Palestinian people.
Even though Prime Minister-designate Olmert this week advanced by two years to 2008 the date for the withdrawal of about 70,000 Israeli settlers from much of the West Bank (thereby clearing the way for a Palestinian state on contiguous land) many Israeli observers questioned whether he could carry it out.