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Knesset Defeats No-confidence Motions over Paralyzed Health Care System

The Knesset defeated five motions of no confidence in the government Tuesday, in the wake of the crisis paralyzing Israel’s health services.

Despite the national unity coalition’s solid majority, opposition forces almost succeeded in toppling the government. Only last-minute efforts to rush coalition members to the plenary averted its downfall. The vote to defeat the motions was 25-20.

Hospitals, meanwhile, were crippled Tuesday and may remain so for the rest of the week, as medical and non-medical personnel reduced service to the barest minimum.

Doctors at government hospitals and those operated by Kupat Holim, Histadrut’s health care agency, curtailed their work to protest the Cabinet’s continued failure to come to grips with the health care crisis.

At the same time, about 10,000 administrative and maintenance employees cut back to a Sabbath work schedule to press demands for overtime pay. They say they are entitled to it for working extra hours to clear up a backlog caused by an earlier strike.

Doctors were angered when the Cabinet, at its weekly meeting Sunday, canceled a scheduled debate on health policy reforms proposed by a professional committee. The ministers also postponed until next week a vote to establish a state commission to examine the problem again.

Physicians at the state hospitals said they would apply work sanctions Monday and Tuesday. The Kupat Holim doctors announced the same for Tuesday and Wednesday. Both groups of doctors subsequently decided, however, to keep the pressure on for the rest of the week.

Medical care is being provided only in life-threatening emergencies. Less than a half dozen private hospitals throughout the country were functioning normally Tuesday.

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