New Elections Are a Possibility

Concern abounds within the Prime Minister's Bureau at the possibility that the budget vote in the Knesset two weeks from now may lead to new elections.

, | updated: 12:29 PM

At present, Prime Minister Sharon is not assured of a majority for the budget. Although his coalition numbers 64 Knesset Members – 40 from the Likud, 19 of Labor, and 5 from United Torah Judaism – many in the Likud threaten to vote against the budget.

For instance, Likud MK Uzi Landau (pictured above) says, "If there is no referendum on the issue of the disengagement, we will vote against the budget." Landau, whom Sharon fired as Cabinet Minister because of his opposition to the disengagement, leads a group of some 15 MKs with the same position.

MK Ayoub Kara, another member of the "loyalists" group – those who are loyal to the Likud platform and oppose Sharon's policies – told Arutz-7, "We remain loyal to the results of last year's internal Likud referendum, which showed that the Likud does not accept the disengagement plan. We are loyal to the idea and not to a man. If we see that there is progress on the referendum issue, we will certainly decide what to do. But if there is no progress, we have said that we will not vote for the budget."

Not all the disengagement opponents within the Likud agree, however. Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, for instance, says that the budget is a good one and that he does not wish to mix the two issues (the budget and the expulsion plan).

Maariv newspaper reports today that Sharon's aides have been discussing with Labor Party leaders the possibility of agreeing jointly to new elections in May or June of this year.

If the budget is not passed by March 31, the law states that the government and Knesset must be dissolved and new elections must be held. This is still not a likely possibility, as it is assumed that opposition parties Meretz and/or Shinui will vote for the budget rather than see the disengagement government fall.