Three no-confidence motions were passed by the Knesset on Monday, but the current government will remain in power, for now.
Another two no-confidence motions - dealing with child welfare benefits and with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's negotiations with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad - were rejected by the Knesset.
Today's no-confidence motions garnered support of between 41 and 50 MKs, with 40 to 48 opposed. However, despite the embarrassing result for the coalition, the Olmert administration was not shaken from power because the law requires that 61 MKs (out of the 120-member legislature) vote no-confidence in order to bring down the government.
The motions that passed dealt with the crisis in higher education, with budget cuts affecting senior citizens, and with the Second Lebanon War. Another two no-confidence motions - dealing with child welfare benefits and with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's negotiations with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad - were rejected by the Knesset during Monday's session.
In addition to failing to block the no-confidence motion over the government's inability to resolve the crisis in higher education, put forward by Yisrael Beiteinu party chairman Avigdor Lieberman, the coalition also lost in a preliminary reading of a Knesset bill that would increase the budget allocated for higher education. The bill was tabled by Meretz party MK Haim Oron and opposed by the Olmert government, although it garnered the support of several Kadima party MKs.
The second of the five no-confidence motions called for a new administration over the government's failure to implement the recommendations of the Winograd Commission two years after the conclusion of the Second Lebanon War. The Winograd Commission was appointed to investigate failures that were revealed at all levels during the 2006 war. The motion was introduced by Meretz party MK Zehava Galon.
The final successful no-confidence motion was tabled by the Gil Pensioners party breakaway faction, Justice for the Elderly. It called for new elections over "governmental failures in handling pensioners and the aging, and breaches of coalition agreements relating to increasing old-age benefits."
The government's failure to block the no-confidence motions was a result of an internal spat between Kadima, the Shas party and the Labor party. Most of the Shas MKs simply did not turn up for the no-confidence votes in order to display their opposition to the appointment of Labor MK Avishay Braverman as chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee. Shas had expected that it would be given the powerful post, and has fought Braverman because of his opposition to restoration of child-support payments to the budget which Shas advocates.
Opposition Likud faction chairman MK Gideon Sa'ar quipped, "The government that had lost the confidence of the public a long time ago, today also lost the confidence of the Knesset."