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In an unprecedented move, the Likud faction leaders yesterday decided to penalize severely four Knesset members who ignored instructions and did not vote for the government's austerity plan in the Knesset.

MKs David Levy, Marina Solodkin, Haim Katz and Gila Gamliel were banned for three months from faction debates in the Knesset plenum or presenting private bills and motions for the agenda.

The harsh reprimand, say coalition sources, reflects the seriousness with which the faction views the errant behavior of the MKs.

They were absent from the votes approving the austerity plan or voted against it.

"Nobody will gag me," commented Gamliel.

Katz said he was not afraid of anyone and would continue doing as he sees fit.

Shinui imposed a similar punishment on MK Hemi Doron, who was also absent from the votes.

Doron said he accepts the punishment "wholeheartedly."