In anticipation of possible Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America voted in Jerusalem last week to empower its leadership to issue statements critical of the Israeli government.
The action, taken after much debate, came after what many viewed as the organization's tepid response two years ago to the planned Gaza disengagement.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip are indirectly ironing out details of a cease-fire that may avert, at least temporarily, increased violence.
If there were to be a major Israeli attack, analysts agree, it would come after Israelis celebrate their 60th anniversary this month. But by the end of the month, all bets are off.
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.