JERUSALEM (Oct. 12)
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy is again threatening to walk out of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.
After threatening a boycott, Levy attended Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, but sources close to him said his relations with the premier had hit rock bottom.
The sources said that the leadership of Levy’s Gesher Party, which ran on a combined list with Likud in last year’s national elections, would convene soon to decide whether to remain in the government.
Some Gesher Knesset members and activists, preferring to break with Netanyahu over social issues, are recommending that the party wait for the Cabinet’s budget debates at the end of the year.
Gesher represents a largely Sephardi constituency with many lower-income voters and is uncomfortable with Netanyahu’s conservative economic and social policies.
Levy has spoken out forcefully against last month’s failed Mossad assassination attempt on a Hamas leader in Jordan, saying that the botched operation has done serious harm to Israel.
“If I had been a part of the decision-making process, I would have stopped it,” he said.
Adding to his grievances was a report last week that Netanyahu had sent a secret message to Syria through French presidential channels without informing him.
To mollify Levy, Netanyahu last Friday ordered his office’s director-general, Avigdor Lieberman, to put off a trip to Moscow that had also raised hackles at the Foreign Ministry.
Political observers say that if Levy and his close advisers believe that they could benefit from a new election and new political realignment, the foreign minister will allow his resentments against the premier to boil over and sweep Gesher out of the government.
On the other hand, if the voices in the party opposing secession triumph, Levy will once again — as has happened more than once since Netanyahu became premier last year — accept a face-saving compromise.