Middle East
Barak to be Israel defence minister
Ehud Barak, newly elected Labour party chairman, will replace Amir Peretz.
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2007 04:12 GMT
Peretz, right, will remain in the government
as a minister without portfolio [AFP]
Ehud Barak, the newly elected Labour party chairman and a former prime minister, has been appointed as the new Israeli defence minister by Ehud Olmert, the prime minister.
Olmert took the decision after holding talks with Barak on Friday.
Barak, whose appointment is to be ratified by the Knesset, will replace Amir Peretz.
"The prime minister had a meeting with Barak today, after which Barak sent Olmert an official request to be named defence minister as soon as possible," an official said.

"The prime minister, who supports the move, held a telephone vote among ministers who supported the move by a big majority."

Remarkable comeback


Barak, who has also previously served as a chief of staff and defence minister, was on Tuesday elected to head Labour - Olmert's main coalition partner - staging a spectacular comeback to the national political arena after a more then six-year absence.


The 65-year-old Barak retired from public life in the wake of the failed Camp David peace talks with the Palestinians in 2000 which led to the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in September.


During the Labour vote campaign, Barak had declared his intention to take the defence portfolio from Peretz, who was ousted as Labour leader in a first-round vote on May 28 following criticism of his performance during the Lebanon war last year.


Peretz will remain in the government as a minister without  portfolio, the official added.

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