Begin loses majority in Knesset
The future of Prime Minister Menachem Begin's government was in doubt Tuesday after two parliamentarians defected to the opposition Labor Party, eliminating the government's slim parliamentary majority.
The desertions came on the eve of a no-confidence vote spurred by a 10.7 percent jump last month in Israel's inflation rate and its overall handling of the economy. Treasury officials have said inflation for 1982 could reach 132 percent if immediate measures are not taken.
Legislator Yitzhak Peretz told reporters he quit the coalition after concluding its policies offered little chance of economic recovery. The second member to quit was Amnon Linn.
''We have been taken by complete surprise,'' said Begin spokesman Uri Porath.
The move left the Begin coalition with only 59 members in the 120-seat Knesset (parliament). The opposition appeared sure to command 56 votes Wednesday.
Since forming the coalition in July, Mr. Begin has seldom commanded more than a two-seat majority, and has talked of new elections, possibly in November. The outcome of Wednesday's vote hinged on the right-wing Techiya (Renaissance) and centrist Telem Parties, which together command five seats.
A spokesman for Techiya said it was seriously considering voting against the government. Coalition party managers said they expected negotiations with Techiya and Telem would continue until the last minute.