No-confidence Motion Defeated 53-48

Israel’s government has withstood the first no-confidence motion brought against it since Shimon Peres became prime minister.

In a 53-48 vote, with 5 abstentions, the Knesset on Monday defeated the motion, which was submitted by the Likud Party in the wake of a report issued last week citing a rise in poverty in Israel.

In his remarks, Likud faction leader Moshe Katsav accused the government of being directly responsible for a growing gap between the rich and poor.

Social Affairs Minister Ora Namir of Labor conceded that the government needed to do more to deal with rising poverty levels in Israel, adding that the time had come to focus on providing direct assistance to the neediest members of Israeli society.

One in eight Israelis lived below the poverty line in 1994, the National Insurance Institute announced last week.

According to the institute, 671,500 people lived under the poverty line – defined as those with a monthly income of less than $780.

The statistics showed that 23,000 more people lived in poverty than the previous year.

Some 42 percent of those under the poverty line were children.

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