Coalition Gains Landslide Victory in Knesset No-confidence Votes

Labor allows members to abstain, not attend 3 no-confidence votes; Labor MK Melchior: We can't express confidence in gov't in light of Winograd findings.

Despite the Labor Party's decision to allow its members the freedom not to attend, the coalition won a landslide victory in three no-confidence votes held in the Knesset Monday.

Between 60-62 MKs votes against the no-confidence proposals and only 26-28 voted in favor. Nine MKs consistently abstained.

Chairman of the opposition MK Benjamin Netanyahu said at the discussion prior to the vote "you've failed, take responsibility, go to the people," referring to the current government, whose conduct during the Second Lebanon War was harshly criticized in a recently publicized partial report of the Winograd war inquiry findings.

Interior Minister Roni Bar-On said the war had not been a devastating failure.

The Labor party decided in a 10-8 vote to allow its members to abstain, or refrain from attending the no-confidence vote. All the Labor ministers voted against expressing no confidence in the government, and all the Labor MKs voted for the option of abstention.

Among the abstention supporters were several MKs who had not been involved in the dispute until now, such as Michael Melchior and Orit Noked. MK Melchior said that "from a moral and principled standpoint, we can't express confidence in the government in regard to Winograd. The government set up an inquiry commission, the commission told the government it had failed in a decisive manner."

In light of the party's decision to allow abstention, Labor leadership candidate Ami Ayalon announced that he would not attend the vote. "The decision represents a red card for Olmert, who doesn't have the trust of the public and thus can't lead a process of repairing the failures," he said.