Coalition Members Consider Vote Against Government

Labor is expected to decide today against supporting two no-confidence motions on the government's alleged failings that will come before the plenum later in the day, guaranteeing the government will survive them by a large margin. However, some MKs from the coalition indicated yesterday that they would vote against the government in the first no-confidence vote after the release of the harsh Winograd interim report on the government's performance during the Second Lebanon War.

It is estimated that Labor will decide in today's party meeting to support the government for as long as Labor is part of the coalition. In light of declarations by coalition MKs that they intend to vote in favor of the no-confidence motions, MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) warned that such MKs will be reprimanded.

"We will not tolerate any MK voting against the government. Anyone voting against it will no longer enjoy the privileges reserved for coalition members," said Hasson, who will be replacing MK Avigdor Yitzhaki as Coalition Whip following Yitzhaki's recent resignation from the post.

The government is expected to survive tomorrow's no-confidence vote by a large margin, so even if some individual coalition MKs do vote against the government or abstain from voting, their votes will be more of an insult than a real threat to its stability.

Despite the warnings, Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich said she is contemplating voting against the government, adding that she had "no intention of voting in favor of Olmert's cabinet following the findings of the Winograd report." Other MKs, including senior figures from the coalition, implied they would abstain or deliberately fail to attend the vote.

Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz also pledged to "not support this government." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet cannot rely on the votes of MKs Avishay Braverman and Ami Ayalon either, as they are expected to decide on a joint stance before the vote. Both Ayalon and Braverman added that they needed to study the no-confidence motions before deciding which way to vote.

More troubling still for the government, is the possibility that even members of the ruling Kadima party might decide to withdraw their support. Kadima MK Marina Solodkin said she would abstain if she becomes convinced that the no-confidence votes are the result of the Winograd report.

Even the incumbent Coalition Whip, Avigdor Yitzhaki, said he was inclined to "not support" the government, adding that he will make his final decision before the vote.

Labor MK Dani Yatom said he would recommend his fellow Labor MKs to vote against the government, adding that he will form his final stand after Labor's meeting today. Eitan Cabel - who recently resigned from his post as cabinet minister - indicated that he, too, will make up his mind just before the vote.

The no-confidence motions were filed by Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) and Yossi Beilin (Meretz), before the release of the Winograd report, toward the end of the Knesset's previous session. They therefore cite alleged omissions in very broad terms, which do not correlate to the committee's harsh findings. Despite this, the issue is bound to come up tomorrow during the discussion, and even dominate the proceedings.

Another factor that serves to deter potential voters from supporting the no-confidence motions, is the fact that anyone voting in favor of them, is actually supporting the candidacy of those who filed the petition, namely Yossi Beilin and Yakov Litzman - neither of whom enjoy the support of large constituencies.