Rabin Government Survives Two No-confidence Motions

The government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has withstood two no-confidence motions that were brought this week to protest the government’s negotiations with Syria and to attack policies that have led to rising Israeli poverty rates.

The no-confidence motion on security, submitted by the National Religious Party and the nationalist Tsomet Party, lashed out at Israel’s attempt to reach a peace accord with Syria.

The opposition cited an Israel Defense Force intelligence officer’s recent remarks that Syrian President Hafez Assad could not be trusted to honor an agreement.

But Monday’s debate soon turned to last week’s suicide terror attack in the Gaza Strip near the isolated settlement of Netzarim that killed three Israeli reservists and left 11 others wounded.

As other leading government officials have done in the past, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres spoke out against keeping Netzarim, home to some 28 families, in Israeli hands.

“Soldiers, money, a separate road, there has to be a limit,” Peres said from the Knesset podium. “There is no Zionist, security, or economic justification for a settlement in the heart of the Arab population centers. For what?”

Though the Palestinian self-rule accord signed last year in Washington states that no existing Jewish settlements will be moved for a period of five years, several government ministers have said the outlays for keeping Netzarim are not justified.

The second no-confidence motion was brought following the recent release of statistics indicating that poverty is on the rise in Israel, particularly among children.

Likud Knesset member David Levy blasted the government’s social and economic policy, citing the poverty report’s statistic that said 270,000 children live below the poverty line.

“Behind the numbers are lives,” Levy said. “In development towns there are hungry children.”

Labor and Social Welfare Minister Ora Namir countered that a recent drop in the unemployment rate, along with recent government moves in the welfare sector, would act to reduce the poverty rate.

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