The prospect of new elections loomed large in Israel yesterday a day after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stinging defeat when parliament rejected three ministerial nominations in votes backed by rebels in his own Likud party.
Israeli media cited sources close to Sharon as saying that the premier would now seek new elections, the chief question now being whether he should remain in the Likud party or form his own party.
Political observers believed that new elections would take place in next spring, the Israeli media reports said.
Monday evening, in a test of strength, the parliament first rejected three Cabinet appointments presented in an "all or nothing" package but then approved Ehud Olmert as finance minister when Sharon re-submitted his deputy's nomination for a separate vote.
Hardliners in Sharon's rightist Likud bent on punishing him for evacuating Gaza settlements engineered the embarrassing blow to the prime minister.
Taking the Knesset podium, he vowed to his opponents: "There will be consequences."
Olmert's nomination was especially urgent because his term as acting finance minister was due to end this week. Olmert, Sharon's No. 1 ally, had replaced Benjamin Netanyahu, the premier's key rival in the Likud who quit in August to protest Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
The votes, which capped a stormy session after a week of negotiations failed to reach a compromise, underscored divisions in Sharon's party that threaten his ability to govern for the remainder of his term which is due to end next November.
The prime minister has made clear he prefers to avoid a snap election but aides have said he may have no choice if his own party ties his hands.
There has also been speculation that Sharon could leave Likud and form a centrist party to capitalize on broad Israeli public support for the pullout. It was completed in September after 38 years of occupation of the coastal territory.
Sharon turned Israeli politics on its head with his Gaza withdrawal, losing some rightist allies and allying with center-left Labour for the first removal of settlers from land Palestinians want for a state.
Likud dissidents were mindful that Israel could have been hurt in world financial markets if such an important post as the finance minister had been left in limbo for long.
But the rebels succeeded in blocking the other appointments, Zeev Boim as immigration minister and Roni Bar-On as trade minister, saying the two were being rewarded for backing the pullout, which opponents see as encouragement for Palestinian violence.
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear