Israel's parliament on Wednesday, March 28, passed the state budget for 2001, a Knesset spokesman said, averting early legislative elections in a victory for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Passage of the 240 billion-shekel ($60 billion) budget three days ahead of a March 31 deadline prevented the dissolution of parliament and new legislative elections, just two months after a special election for prime minister brought Sharon to power.
Sharon soundly defeated prime minister Ehud Barak February 6 on a promise of restoring security to Israel's citizens.
The parliament has since voted to change the election law from direct election of prime ministers to a system where the head of the party receiving the largest number of votes in legislative elections becomes prime minister.
The next elections for the 120-member parliament are due in 2003. Fifty-eight members of the Knesset voted in favor of the budget and 18 against, the spokesman said — (AFP, Jerusalem
© Agence France Presse 2001
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