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A Knesset defeat for Ariel Sharon raised the prospect of early Israeli elections. The Knesset voted Monday against three Cabinet appointments submitted by the prime minister, after opponents in his Likud Party joined forces with opposition factions. Sharon finally managed to win ratification for one of the appointments — Ehud Olmert as finance minister — but the incident signaled the depth of ideological division in the Likud over the recent Gaza Strip withdrawal.

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