The coincidence could hardly have been lost on Ehud Barak: As President Hafez Assad was laid to rest in Syria, Israel's Shas Party appeared to lay the premier's "peace coalition" to rest.The fervently Orthodox party's Council of Sages, headed by spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, sounded what could be the first notes of the prime minister's coalition's death knell Tuesday. The council ordered Shas ministers to hand in their resignations at Sunday's Cabinet meeting.
After Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ruler of the Shas (Sephardi ultra-Orthodox) party, caused an uproar this week by pronouncing a kind of Jewish fatwa on liberal Education Minister Yossi Sarid, one of Yosef's minions tried to jump into the fray.
Pundits everywhere are calling Israel's election results a "political earthquake." In fact, though, two distinct tremors have overturned the rules and realities that have governed the Jewish state and its policy-making these past three years.