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.
Ariel Sharon the centrist? Hard as that may be for some to imagine, after days of political upheaval in Israel during which he rejected forming a right-wing government, the Israeli prime minister emerged as the statesman between the doves of Labor and the hawks of several nationalist parties. Sharon says he hopes to form another unity government with the Labor Party if he wins re-election in late January.
by Michele Chabin |
Jerusalem — Give up on Oslo and Arafat. That’s what political pundits are saying the Labor Party, the dominant left-of-center force in Israel since its founding in the late 1960s, must do to maintain its political viability after leaving Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coalition government.
The collapse of Israel’s unity government after 20 months in office is seen as almost certainly paving the way for early elections even if Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can put together enough support to adopt the 2003 state budget.
A vote of no-confidence is slated to be held Monday and Sharon has reportedly said he would call for new elections on Sunday to stave off such a vote.
It’s been a week of death and foreboding. Israel is on the verge of a three-front war: against the Palestinians, against Iraq and against itself.
While 13 Israelis are sitting shiva after Monday’s bus bombing, the rest of the country is debating the violent settler resistance against soldiers closing down the illegal settlement of Havat Gilad — illegal not only by international standards but by Israel’s.
Israelis were shaken this week by another bus bombing that killed 13, the fear of civil war after militant settlers clashed with police and soldiers, and the Health Ministry’s recommendation that the entire population be immediately vaccinated against smallpox in the event of an Iraqi attack.
In Monday’s suicide bombing, two teenage members of Islamic Jihad from the West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin rammed their jeep into the rear of a public bus midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv, engulfing the two vehicles and two nearby cars in flames.