Israeli cabinet to approve hardline defence minister

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Jerusalem, May 30 (IANS) The Israeli cabinet was on Monday set to approve hardline lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman as defence minister after a political crisis that threatened the move was resolved.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett, leader of Jewish Home party, reached a settlement overnight to meet the latter’s demand on changes to the security cabinet, Xinhua reported.

The religious nationalist Jewish Home party had threatened to leave the coalition if its demands were not met, forcing the postponement of a telephone vote, originally scheduled for Sunday, on approving Lieberman’s appointment.

According to the settlement, the head of the National Security Council will be in charge of informing ministers of the security cabinet on secret national security issues.

Netanyahu signed a deal last week to expand his coalition by including Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beytenu (“Israel Our Home”) party in his coalition.

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The new alliance will increase the advantage of Netanyahu’s coalition over the opposition from a razor-thin lead of 61-59 to 66-54.

Lieberman is seen as one of the most polarising politicians in Israel, with a far-right and anti-Arab agenda.



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