Levy may quit as relations with Netanyahu plummet

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Gesher represents a largely Sephardi constituency with many lower-income voters and is uncomfortable with Netanyahu's conservative economic and social policies.

Levy has spoken out forcefully against last month's failed Mossad assassination attempt on a Hamas leader in Jordan, saying that the botched operation has done serious harm to Israel.

"If I had been a part of the decision-making process, I would have stopped it," he said.

Adding to his grievances was a report last week that Netanyahu had sent a secret message to Syria through French presidential channels without informing him.

To mollify Levy, Netanyahu last Friday ordered his office's director-general, Avigdor Lieberman, to put off a trip to Moscow that also had raised hackles at the Foreign Ministry.

Political observers say that if Levy and his close advisers believe that they could benefit from a new election and new political realignment, the foreign minister will allow his resentments against the premier to boil over and sweep Gesher out of the government.

On the other hand, if the voices in the party opposing secession triumph, Levy will once again — as has happened more than once since Netanyahu became premier last year — accept a face-saving compromise.