The 2005 state budget was approved by the Knesset on Wednesday on its first reading by a majority of 64 to 53. The anti-disengagement Likud “rebels” who intended to vote against the budget bill decided to vote in favor on the first reading in order to defer a parliamentary crisis if the bill had been rejected. The “rebels” issued a statement saying that they hope their support will convince the Prime Minister to change his stance about a national referendum on the Disengagement Plan. They said they will reconsider their decision when the budget comes up for its second and third readings in March. According to sources in the Prime Minister's office, after the vote Sharon will continue to oppose holding a national referendum on the Disengagement Plan, Israel Radio reported.