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.
In his campaign to win election as the next prime minister, Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz is stressing the economy and his goal of reversing Israel's growing rate of poverty and income gap.
But even his staunchest ally concedes he has an uphill battle.
"In Israel, unfortunately, people donít vote based on socio-economic conditions," said Ofer Eini, who in January succeeded Peretz as chairman of the Histadrut Labor Union.
The likely victor in next weekís Knesset election, no matter the final numbers, is the Israeli political party Kadima, which recognized that an exhausted people wanted something other than ideology in a country where ideology has hung like smog.
Jerusalem Now the horse trading begins.
As Ehud Olmert seeks to assemble a coalition government this week following his Kadima Party's poorer-than-expected victory of just 28 seats in Tuesday's election, he will not have the free hand he expected just a month ago when polls were showing Kadima winning 40 or more seats in the 120-seat Knesset.
The Israeli assault on a Palestinian jail in Jericho Tuesday to arrest the alleged mastermind of the 2001 assassination of an Israeli minister has increased the political standing of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert just two weeks before elections, according to Israeli analysts.They also said the siege foiled Hamas' effort to portray itself as the liberator of Palestinian prisoners.
As Hamas and Fatah representatives met this week to discuss the possibility of Fatah joining a new Hamas-led government (one which analysts say is unlikely to be formed until at least May) the World Bank and the European Union stepped in to provide a total of $185 million in humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people.
The World Bank Tuesday said its $42 million grant to the Palestinian Authority was designed to "avoid suspension of basic services to the Palestinian population."