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Budget Crisis Won’t Be Resolved Before Shamir Heads for the U.S.

As Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir heads for the United States this week, he is leaving behind a dispute among the religious parties in his coalition that threatens the stability and longevity of his Likudled government.

The National Religious Party refuses to support the annual budget, now in committee, unless “special allocations” for schools of the haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, parties are removed.

The three parties of the haredi bloc vow to oppose the budget if they are denied the special funds, which have long been part of their price for joining the secular coalition.

Aides to Shamir said he would not have time to resolve the crisis before leaving Thursday on a nine-day U.S. trip that will include a meeting with President Bush in Washington next week.

The government therefore is expected to submit an interim state budget to the Knesset in the next few weeks. It would cover at most the first quarter of the new year. But it would at least conform to the requirement that a budget be in place by Jan. 1.

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