Israel Who Was That Bearded Man?

An ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn rabbi derails a new government

Politics is often called the art of the possible. But Israel is rapidly transforming politics into the art of the improbable -- if not the downright ridiculous. Ever since the collapse of Israel's coalition government on March 15, Labor leader Shimon Peres has been scrambling to put together a new government without his party's nemesis, the conservative Likud bloc. Early last week Peres appeared to have sewn up 61 of the Knesset's 120 votes. But on Wednesday two Deputies of the religious party Agudat Yisrael backed out of a signed agreement, leaving Peres two votes short of a majority.

What made...