Against Labor party protest and Histadrut strike warnings, the Israeli cabinet is expected to approve the 2005 state budget in its Sunday meeting.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon extended Sunday support to his finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but told cabinet ministers that there was room for changes to avoid hurting the weak sectors of the community.

Sharon is said to be anxious to have the NIS 266.9 billion budget passed – ahead of the conclusion of negotiations to expand the coalition.

Shniui party warned that its ministers would vote against the budget if the demands for an additional NIS 1.7 billions to solve the financial crisis of local authorities are not approved.

The Histadrut labor federation is planning to declare Sunday a labor dispute if the budget is approved. Two weeks after the declaration, workers may begin a strike or apply sanctions.

Labor Party MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Sunday that if the budget is approved, he will recommend his party to cut coalition talks with Likud.

Ben-Eliezer added that Labor can still support Sharon’s diplomatic policies from opposition seats.

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