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As the Knesset returned from its three-month summer recess on Monday, its first session since the Palestinian uprising started one month ago, embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak faced a deeply divided parliament without an emergency unity government in place and in the throes of a fresh round of lethal assaults on Israeli targets.
With Israel now definitely heading into a campaign season, rumors are flying again that Prime Minister Ehud Barak is conducting secret negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in hopes of reaching an election-eve peace deal that will save his political career.
After the Knesset voted early Tuesday morning not to dissolve, the special Israeli election for prime minister only appeared to come down to a race between incumbent Ehud Barak and Likud chairman Ariel Sharon. But prominent dove Shimon Peres looked at his numbers in the polls and announced on Wednesday he plans to run as well, adding more pressure on Barak to seal a quick peace deal in renewed talks with the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has reacted sharply to a private opinion letter from Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein leaked to the press in which the government's chief lawyer makes an impassioned case that Barak has no moral authority to pursue a hasty, election-eve peace deal with the Palestinians.
The campaign financing scandal from the 1999 elections continues to haunt Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at an inopportune time.
Trailing badly in the latest polls, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's campaign for re-election has charged opponent Ariel Sharon with sparking the recent Palestinian intifada, contradicting his government's official position to the outside world.
Falling further behind in successive polls, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is facing increasing calls to set aside in his bid for re-election in favor of the Labor's party elder statesman and leading dove Shimon Peres, who appears to have a better chance at defeating Likud Chairman Ariel Sharon in balloting on February 6.
The special Israeli election for prime minister heated up on Tuesday when local air waves were opened to a steady diet of campaign ads for the Labor and Likud candidates, with both parties depicting the opponent as dangerous.
With just three days left of the Clinton presidency's hand in Mideast diplomacy and an Israeli election only three weeks away, Prime Minister Ehud Barak has decided to finally put peace negotiations with the Palestinians on the back burner for now.
After Prime Minister Ehud Barak gave his approval, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators launched an intense round of peace talks in Sinai on Sunday to try to reach a framework agreement before the February 6 election in Israel. Barak is playing down expectations and blaring his "red lines" to Israeli voters, but his negotiating team seemed a bit surprised by the Palestinian side's sudden willingness to quickly ink an accord.
The unofficial three-way race for prime minister is also a three-way rumor mill, as conspiracy charges swirled in recent days between the rival camps of Labor nominee Ehud Barak, Likud's Ariel Sharon and virtual candidate Shimon Peres.
In a decisive showdown in the Sinai on Monday, key regional and world leaders will goad Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO chief Yasser Arafat to meet face-to-face to discuss terms for ending the lethal Palestinian uprising over the past two weeks. There appears to be little reason for optimism that a truce can be concluded quickly, or that the Oslo peace process can be revived anytime soon.
In his first official communication with new US President George W. Bush on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak declared that handing over the Temple Mount to the Palestinians would be an act of "betrayal."
Following the very sort of zig-zag pattern that has brought him into such disfavor with Israeli voters, Prime Minister Ehud Barak has reversed course and said he is now open to a possible meeting with PLO chief Yasser Arafat before the Israeli election next Tuesday.
Upon hearing of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's sudden resignation over the weekend, Palestinian officials gloated that the renewed intifada had brought him down, but also lamented over the resulting delay caused by new elections.
Trailing badly going into the final week of the election, the campaign of incumbent Prime Minister Ehud Barak stooped to new lows, as activists had to be restrained on Tuesday from distributing fake call-up orders for IDF duty meant to scare voters against rival Likud candidate Ariel Sharon.
Friends and even foes of former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are smoothing the way for him to timely mount a challenge against current premier Ehud Barak in a special election in early February. The remaining quandry, however, is whether the Knesset also will dissolve itself and allow voters to truly reflect the huge rightward shift in Israeli public opinion caused by Camp David and the Palestinian uprising.