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8 Adar II 5760 - March 15, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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UTJ Votes Against Government; Shas, NRP, Yisrael Ba'aliya Also Vote No Confidence

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

All five MKs of United Torah Judaism voted against the government in the no-confidence motion presented by Likud on Monday over the new curriculum introduced by Education Minister Yossi Sarid. The MKs of Shas and the National Religious Party also voted against the government, leaving Prime Minister Ehud Barak with the support of only one-third of his cabinet ministers. The Cabinet ministers of those parties did not participate in the vote. If they vote against the government in a no-confidence motion, they must resign. Yisrael Ba'aliya was absent for the voting.

In explaining the vote, a UTJ spokesman said that the vote was a matter of principle and not designed to exert pressure for money or other benefits. Just yesterday he spoke gratuitously against Megillas Esther.

The motion was rejected by a vote of only 48 to 42, with three abstentions, and highlighted the fragility of prime minister Barak's government. Although no coalition member is ready to leave or to bring down the government, they are profoundly dissatisfied with the way things are going.

Education Minister Yossi Sarid has been deliberately provocative in his recent decisions. Last week he announced that he intends to drop many classical Jewish sources and to include the works of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in the national school curriculum. He also declared publicly, and of his own initiative, that he works on Shabbos. In addition, he has been very uncooperative with fellow coalition member Shas. He has been very grudging in transferring money for their ailing school system, and has refused to give Deputy Education Minister M. Nahari the responsibilities that he is supposed to get under the agreements.

In Monday's vote, three Shinui MKs, including its leader Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, opposed the government. Am Echad MKs Amir Peretz and Haim Katz abstained. Yisrael Beiteinu MK Eliezer Cohen paired off with Transport Minister Yitzhak Mordechai, who is on vacation pending a police probe into criminal allegations.

Another no-confidence motion, filed by the Arab parties over the decision to grant an early release to Yoram Skolnik, was rejected by a vote of 67 to 11.

Likud whip Ruby Rivlin said the vote had caused a "deterioration of the status of the government." The fact that there were only eight ministers at the cabinet table in the plenum shows they don't support the government, he said.

The debate on the Darwish motion passed quietly after the issue has raised a continual uproar since Sarid's decision was announced.

In a meeting devoted to the Darwish issue prior to the no- confidence vote, Knesset Education Committee chairman Zevulun Orlev called upon Barak to set up a ministerial committee to oversee the activities of the education minister, similar to the Social Economic Forum that reviews the nation's economic policy. "There has to be some kind of mechanism to limit the intervention of the education minister in the curriculum," Orlev said, citing Darwish and Sarid's instituting a day of learning about the Kfar Kassem massacre in schools last year. "It's too bad you can't vote no confidence in a minister."

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