Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has warned that his government could collapse over a crucial budget vote this month. "We face a problem today,” Sharon said. “The problem is that there is a group within the Likud [party] that threatens to vote against the budget and bring down the Likud government.” Thirteen of 40 Likud lawmakers will vote against the budget because they want to thwart Sharon’s plan to pull out of Gaza. If the budget fails to win a parliamentary majority, the government would automatically fall and Sharon would be forced to call early elections. That would delay the Gaza pullout for months. The showdown will be close--the budget could be decided by as little as one vote. The budget is seen as the final hurdle to implementation of the Gaza pullout.
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