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.
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.