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No-Confidence Motion Filed Over Mormon Project in Israel

December 23, 1985|Associated Press

JERUSALEM — An ultra-religious party today submitted a no-confidence motion in the Knesset (Parliament) against the Peres government to protest the construction of a Mormon study center near the Mount of Olives.

Prime Minister Shimon Peres is expected to easily defeat the motion scheduled for a vote Tuesday in the 120-member Knesset, keeping alive his broad seven-party ruling coalition.

Pressure was being put on the two-seat Agudat Israel party to withdraw the motion, which was viewed as an act of open defiance that could trigger a chain reaction over other religious issues.

Religious Parties Wooed

The two major coalition parties, Peres' Labor Party and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir's Likud bloc, are courting the four religious parties as potential partners in any future coalition. A Likud-Labor clash over religious issues could threaten the fragile national unity government.

The controversy concerned a $15-million annex to Mormon-affiliated Brigham Young University of Provo, Utah, which orthodox Jews fear will become a missionary center to convert Jews.

BYU has promised that its students will not proselytize. It has guaranteed that the building will be an academic center housing the university's Near East Studies department.

The university struggled through a bureaucratic labyrinth for 12 years to obtain needed licenses, but opposition was mounted only this year when a small anti-missionary group began looking into Mormon ideology.

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