Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won a key vote when a Knesset (parliament) committee barely approved the state budget. Under law, failure to pass the budget would automatically bring down the government, and that would put Sharon's plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip this summer on hold. Sharon has one last obstacle--getting the budget through the full parliament next week. Rebels in Sharon's Likud party may vote against the budget in an attempt to force new elections, effectively putting the Gaza pullout on hold for months. "I don't foresee elections because this budget will pass," Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel Radio. The vote will be close, but if Sharon can muster another victory, the Gaza pullout will be set for implementation.
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