Threatened With Dismissal, Shas Ministers Decide Against No-confidence Vote

Shas enraged over coalition's support of bill stipulating equal distribution of property before a divorce.

Shas lawmakers abstained from a no-confidence vote Monday despite their indignation over the coalition's decision to vote in favor of an amendment stipulating the equal distribution of property before a get (Jewish law on divorce).

Although the Shas Knesset members threatened to vote against the government ahead of the vote, in the end they decided to abstain, knowing that a vote against the government would have given strength to a motion of no confidence in the government and that they would have risked dismissal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

When Olmert learned of the lawmakers' initial intention to cast a no-confidence vote, he fired back during a Kadima Party meeting and threatened to sack any minister who did so. As a result, ministers from the Shas Party were absent from the plenum vote, while Shas MKs without ministerial portfolios were present at the plenum - but abstained.

MK Yakov Margi, chairman of the Shas faction in the Knesset, warned Sunday that the coalition would pay a heavy price were the bill to pass the second and third reading on Monday.

The amendment deals with a process termed the "parity of resources," concerning the distribution of a couple's property after their divorce. The current law stipulates that the parity of resources will be implemented only after the actual divorce had been granted. Since the Jewish law stipulates that a man has to give his consent to a divorce, he can therefore condition his consent on an agreement that will leave most of the property in his possession.

The amendment to the law allows the court to order a parity of resources before the divorce goes into effect, in cases in which there is proof of violence, or if over a year passes since the divorce request had been filed.