Knesset plenum defeats bills to postpone pullout from Gaza Strip

The Knesset plenum on Wednesday afternoon defeated three bills postponing the disengagement plan. The primary bill was defeated by a margin of 69-41 with two MKs abstained from voting. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Limor Livnat were not present during the voting. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom voted against the bills. MKs Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party), Yitzhak Levy (Renewed National Religious Zionism) and Uzi Landau (Likud), initiated the bills, despite their scant chances of success in becoming legislation. Orlev said Tuesday evening that he requested the heads of every Knesset fgrant their MKs freedom to vote according to their conscience, and not according to their party’s decision. United Torah Judaism spiritual leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv had instructed MKs Avraham Ravitz and Moshe Gafni to vote in favor of the postponing the pullout, Israel Radio reported early Wednesday. BPI-info

The ultra-Orthodox Degel Hatorah fis mulling a no-confidence motion against the government despite its being a member of the coalition, Israel Radio reported. Ravitz, who serves as a deputy minister, told Israel Radio that Israel Defense Forces soldiers are violating the Sabbath in their preparation for disengagement. BPI-info Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin and coalition chairman Gideon Sa’ar (Likud), both opponents of the disengagement, voted in support of the bills. Most of the Likud MKs voted against approving the bills, as well as the Labor faction, Shinui, Meretz-Yahad, and the Arab parties.