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Israel parliament passes dissolution bill following Sharon exit from Likud

[JURIST] The Israeli Knesset [official website] voted 84-0 Monday in favor of a preliminary motion to dissolve itself shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon [BBC profile; official website] defected from the right-wing Likud [party website] political party he helped create. Once the bill is finally approved, a parliamentary election must take place within 90 days, well before the originally-scheduled November 2006 date. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, a Likud member, said he would push for the required three final votes to take place Tuesday. Sharon told Israeli President Moshe Katsav [official website; Wikipedia profile] earlier Monday that "it is impossible to carry on as Prime Minister" with the current parliament and called for a dissolution under Article 29 of the Israeli Basic Law [text]. Katsav announced that he will accept the results of the vote, and will work to ensure that Knesset factions opposed to Sharon will allow the Prime Minister to appoint interim ministers so that the essential government operations will be unaffected by disbandment of the assembly. Eight members of the Labor party faction of the Likud-led coalition party resigned from the government shortly before the vote. Relations between Sharon and the Likud party have been increasingly tense since Sharon's extremely controversial decision to withdraw settlers from Gaza and four West Bank settlements, which was approved by the Knesset despite Likud opposition. Reuters has more. from Israel, Haaretz has local coverage.

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