JERUSALEM (Jan. 27)
Early elections in Israel are virtually certain, even though the Likud government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir easily weathered five no-confidence motions hurled against it in the Knesset on Monday.
They were defeated in a single vote of 55-49, with five abstentions.
But the consensus among political leaders was that the nation would go to the polls long before the Knesset’s tenure expires in November.
Sara Doron, who chairs the Likud Knesset faction, said waiting until November is “out of the question.”
Likud and Labor Party leaders were scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss a date for elections, which will probably be held at the end of May or early in June.
Shamir will have a good deal to say, since his position was strengthened by the defeat of the latest efforts of Labor and its left-wing allies to topple his vulnerable regime.
Ironically, the prime minister was saved by the same far-right parties, Tehiya and Moledet, that deprived him of a parliamentary majority by quitting his coalition government last week.
Their combined bloc of five Knesset members abstained rather than vote for motions supported by the left.
Shamir also won the support of the other far-right party, the two-member Tsomet faction, which left his government earlier this month, though not for ideological reasons.
One member of a party in the government, Eliezer Mizrahi of the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Yisrael, absented himself from the floor during the voting.
Ten other Knesset members were absent, balanced evenly between the government and the opposition.
The five no-confidence motions dealt mainly with economic policy and with the government’s unyielding commitment to more settlement building in the administered territories which could jeopardize the peace process.
The motions were introduced by Labor, the Citizens Rights Movement, Mapam, the Center-Shinui Movement and the Hadash Communists.