The Netanyahu government’s most left-wing member, environmental defense minister Amir Peretz, quit the cabinet on Sunday and declared war on the prime minister, vowing to work for a new government committed to peace and economic justice. Peretz, a onetime Labor Party chairman and defense minister, is a member of Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party.
In a scarcely noticed series of political maneuvers, Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud party lost its primacy as the largest party in the Knesset last Wednesday. It’s now equal in size to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party at 19 seats each. Moreover, don’t be surprised if the prime minister finds himself dropping to 18 in the fall. I don’t know how, but I’ll bet Avigdor Liberman does.
Avigdor Liberman, Bibi Netanyahu’s foreign minister and perennial rival, has ended his alliance with the Likud over his spurned demands for harsher strikes on Hamas.
Martin Indyk, the Obama administration’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace, will formally resign this afternoon and return to his think-tank job at the Brookings Institution, the Associated Press reports. If there was talk of a renewed American effort to reignite peace talks, this is probably a bad sign.
The Israeli government continues to enjoy a measure of deniability in settlement activity, thanks to a postponed vote on the bill that would force transparency, writes J.J. Goldberg.
New outpost goes up at Eli, Judea-West Bank, February 2008, courtesy of the World Zionist Organization / Getty Images
To understand why Shelly Yachimovich was booted out as head of the Israel Labor Party after just two years on the job, it helps to note that Labor has had a bad habit, ever since Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995, of changing leaders every time it holds a primary.
If Benjamin Netanyahu decides to forge a peace deal, he will have the support of Israel’s Knesset but not his party. Going ahead may depend on his upbringing as much as anything.
That fight over the post of Israeli chief rabbi is more than meets the eye. It will affect marriage and conversion. And it even has powerful implications for the peace process.
Israel’s new finance minister, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, gave his first Knesset speech as a cabinet minister on Monday, April 22, the opening day of the parliament’s spring session, and in defiance of longstanding tradition, he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. Longtime Knesset observers say they can’t remember ever hearing such a frontal, direct confrontation with the Haredi parties from the Knesset rostrum.