Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are in a state of political uncertainty.
In Jerusalem Wednesday, the Israeli parliament rejected the 2005 state budget after the secular Shinui party voted against it because of its opposition to the funding of religious parties.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon later fired the renegade Shinui ministers from his Cabinet, leaving the Likud coalition with just 40 votes in the 120-seat Knesset. The vote triggered a political crisis that could stall or wreck Mr. Sharon's plans to evacuate the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, Palestinian militant Marwan Barghouti filed papers Wednesday to run for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority. Barghouti is serving five life sentences in Israel for planning suicide attacks.
Analysts say Barghouti could undermine interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's candidacy, and jeopardize any future peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel if he wins.