An Israeli opposition leader has agreed to vote in favor of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposed budget, keeping a planned Gaza withdrawal on track.
Parliament's failure to pass the budget would automatically lead to new elections and a possible halt in plans to evacuate Gaza later this year. The vote is expected to be very close and opposition support is vital.
After meeting with Mr. Sharon Saturday, opposition leader Joseph Lapid said his Shinui Party would back the budget in exchange for funds for such projects as the arts, universities, and the environment. Israel has promised to pull out of all 21 Gaza settlements by July and turn over security responsibilities to the Palestinians.