Jerusalem Prime Minister Ariel Sharon failed to win parliamentary approval for his nomination of three new Cabinet ministers in a vote Monday, reflecting the deep divisions in the ruling Likud Party and raising the likelihood that the country could be headed for early elections.
The 60-54 vote dealt an embarrassing blow to Sharon, but did not put his government in immediate jeopardy. Several Likud members voted against the nominations.
Disgruntled Likud hard-liners, still angry over Sharon's September pullout from the Gaza Strip, objected to his plan to promote loyalists in what they said was a political payoff.
"There will be consequences," Sharon said after the vote. He did not elaborate and called an emergency meeting of Cabinet ministers to discuss how to proceed.