28/06/2004 The Knesset will debate three no-confidence motions Monday, all over socioeconomic issues, however, none is expected to pass. Even if a motion were to pass, it would be unlikely to topple the government, since it would require 61 MKs to unite behind a single prime ministerial candidate. With the opposition divided between left and right, such agreement is virtually impossible. The first motion, submitted by Labor, is over the country’s socioeconomic condition as is the second, submitted by Meretz and the three Arab parties. The third, by Shas and United Torah Judaism, is over a more specific matter: the nonpayment of salaries to local authority and religious council employees. One question is how the four National Religious Party MKs who remain in the government will vote on the Shas and UTJ motion, since the NRP also is furious over the nonpayment of salaries to religious council workers. Last week, they supported the government after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised to deal with this issue personally, and at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Sharon announced that he and the Finance Ministry have agreed on an immediate transfer of NIS 26 million to settle some of the councils’ most outstanding debts. He also said that he has assigned the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Ilan Cohen, to urgently come up with a more permanent solution.
Coalition members expect this announcement to suffice to win the NRP’s support in Monday’s vote, particularly since Minister Zevulun Orlev and fchairman Nissan Slomiansky already have announced that they will recommend such to their party. Officially, however, the party will decide on its stance only this afternoon. BPI-info