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.
Two of Israel's two main enemies, Syria and Iran, were rebuked by the United Nations Security Council within four days of each other this past week: a fact that one former Israeli ambassador said is no coincidence.
"Iran is Syria's ally and even patron," explained Itamar Rabinovich, Israel's former ambassador to Washington and chief negotiator with Syria a decade ago. "Iran is the senior partner in the relationship and it seeks to give Syria protective patronage."
International pressure was mounting on Syria this week with the release of an interim report by the United Nations tying Damascus to the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and another U.N. report charging that Syria was maintaining indirect military control of Lebanon despite withdrawing its troops last spring.
The latter report, prepared by U.N. special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, said Syria was using its agents in the army, intelligence organizations and Lebanese administration.
The back-to-back drive-by shootings in the West Bank Sunday that killed three young Israelis (two female cousins and a 14-year-old) and injured six others were viewed by some Israeli analysts as just another in a string of terrorist attacks. But others saw it as the possible start of a new wave of West Bank attacks launched by Palestinians emboldened by Israel's Gaza withdrawal.
by Michele Chabin and Stewart Ain |
Staff Writer and Israel Correspondent
On a cold and rainy night this week, a major New York-area distributor of lulav and etrog sets drove his truck to a Brooklyn pier at midnight and hauled away 10,000 sets for next week's Sukkot holiday.
He bought the sets in a cash-only transaction from an importer (no questions asked) who had told him that if he wanted his supply, he should "be there at midnight."
"I felt like I was in a crime movie," the distributor later told a friend.