Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he would use his considerable power to topple the coalition government if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not step aside to face corruption allegations. Although Barak stopped short of setting a firm deadline, his comments make it extremely difficult for Olmert to stay in power. If Barak’s Labor Party withdraws from the coalition, Olmert would lose his parliamentary majority and the country would be forced to hold new elections.Bernard Avishai, contributing editor of Harvard Business Review and author ‘The Hebrew Republic,’ comments on the possibility of early elections that would most likely see Israel’s current Foreign Minister appointed as Prime Minister.

He insists ‘Barak is not really interested in precipitating a new election now, in advance of any diplomatic breakthrough,’ and notes that ‘if Olmert goes and some interim Prime Minister like Tzipi Livni is appointed,’ this ‘would be pretty good for a peace deal.’ Perhaps of greatest significance for the region and the advancement of any peace negotiations, Avishai believes that ‘Tzipi Livni would be a much more attractive face of a peace deal; more people would trust her.’