While reestablishing national unity in the wake of Ehud Barak's electoral victory is relatively easy with regard to the ultimate goals of the "peace process," Israeli cohesion is deeply threatened by an ethnic-cultural gap and accelerating atomization of society. The gap between secularists and the religious parties on social issues results from an inherent contradiction linked to the definition of Israel as a Jewish-democratic state. Meanwhile, despite media hype about dramatic change, evidence of Barak's high-handedness both with regard to party politics and in negotiations with the Palestinians is leading to fears that his policies will not differ substantially from his predecessor's.

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