The Knesset just approved a new Matrimonial Law which includes previsions for Civil matrimony. This a momentous law because for the first time in the history of the Jewish State, the Chief Rabbinate will no longer have a monopoly in that area. Of course, this might cause some problems since the Rabbinate might refuse to recognize civil matrimonies as valid under Jewish law, thus making the children of these families “mamzerim” in their eyes. It is, nevertheless, a momentous change. But the change does not come without problems.
One of the coalition members, Yisrael Beyteinu, is in fact a Modern Orthodox political party, and the passage of this law puts them in a difficult position. Even more, at a time when Israel and the Palestinians are engaged in Peace negotiations under the auspices of the US, Yisrael Beyteinu might feel compelled to torpedo the talks because they might feel they have conceded a major point with the Civil Matrimony law. This explains, in part, why Netanyahu authorized at this point in time the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in what people call “East Jerusalem”.
And of course, there is Abbas. The Palestinian leader is at best a reluctant participant in the peace negotiations and he would be more than happy to find a reason to walk out...the authorization of the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem might serve as such an excuse. Why does Abbas want to walk out? Because he is convinced that right now he has a good chance of gaining full membership as a State at the UN, and in his eyes that improves his negotiating position and more. A number of Palestinian officials are openly talking about requesting the trial of several dozens Israeli public figures as war criminals right after gaining UN recognition (see Abu Toameh's article)
Should Yisrael Beyteinu decide to walk out of the coalition in order to preserve its power base, Netanyahu might be forced to call upon Labor to join the coalition. This could have some interesting political ramifications. First of all, it would change the nature of the governing coalition, putting Netanyahu in the difficult role of mediating between the partners from one side of the aisle instead of from the center, and in many ways probably enhancing the political capital and position of Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid while gaining a powerful enemy in the person of Yisrael Beyteinu leader Naftali Bennett. Bennett is already doing his best to undermine Netanyahu by backtracking on the prisoners' release deal.
Of course, there is always Hamas. The IDF, as I write, is engaged in military operations in the Gaza strip according to a flash news from HaAretz; news that Israel was behind the attack on the Syrian convoy transporting missiles for Hezbollah just surfaced; Syria is accusing Israel of attacking Damascus and Israelis are fretting over what they perceive as US weakness vis-a-vis the Iranian negotiations.
There is also the approaching deadline of January first for the full implementation of European Union boycott of Israeli exports produced in areas beyond the Green Line, seen by Israelis as European interference in their bilateral negotiation with the Palestinians...
When all is told (and there is more than what I just wrote about) Israel seems to live in a perpetual state of “Interesting”, always on the edge and always innovating and giving the world multiple gifts every day in the areas of technology, medicine, protection of the environment, etc.
Every time I go to Israel I might not kiss the ground as many do, but I take a deep breath of the air and I am overwhelmed by the most incredible of feelings...away from home, I am home.