The Rise of the 15th Knesset

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As autumn 2000 progressed, Barak's position moved from precarious to impossible. A violent Palestinian intifada (uprising) broke out, accompanied by deadly suicide bombings, causing Israelis to feel that their personal safety was at risk. The Israeli economy, already reeling from drops in exports as the world economy moved into recession, suffered a grievous blow from the intifada as tourists and foreign investors became disinclined to visit the county.

When violent demonstrations in Israel's Arab sector in October were quelled by police firing directly into crowds and killing 13, Barak lost the support of the Arab parties in the Knesset, the last prop holding up his government. Realizing that successful no-confidence motions were about to bring him down, Barak announced in December 2000 that he was resigning from the office of prime minister, an action that resulted in the calling of new direct elections for prime minister on Feb. 6, 2001--the moment Sharon had been waiting for.

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Ziv Hellman is a Jerusalem-based writer and mathematician. A former editor at the Jerusalem Post, Ziv was a founding member of Peace Watch--the watchdog group reporting on the implementation of the Oslo Agreements. He also led the Israeli elections observer team evaluating the Palestinian Authority elections.