JERUSALEM (May. 24)
A series of opposition no-confidence motions on economic issues were defeated in the Knesset by a majority of 5244. The only breach of coalition discipline came from a section of the Laam faction led by Yigael Hurwitz, the former Trade Minister, which did not participate in the vote as an expression of its grave doubts over the government’s economic policy.
As the debate proceeded, word filtered through that the Finance Ministry intends to slash a further IL 3-4 billion from this year’s annual budget on top of a IL 3.3 billion cut promised earlier.
Finance Ministry sources explained that the atmosphere engendered in the Cabinet by the shock of an 8.7 percent increase in the cost-of-living index in April was favorable to budget cuts. Finance Minister Simcha Ehrlich and his aides lost no time in preparing a supplementary program of cuts. This will be presented to the Cabinet Sunday.
The no-confidence motions were presented by Labor, the Shai faction and the Communists. They were supported by other left and liberal factions. Labor Party chairman Shiman Peres Flayed the government for its ostensibly liberal economic policy which he said was directly responsible for the galloping inflation. He warned that the situation was leading to a dangerous level of dependence on the U.S. Another no-confidence motion on housing presented by the Labor Alignment also suffered a defeat in the Knesset.