Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed Likud Knesset Member Moshe Ya'alon that he will be replacing Ehud Barak as defense minister.
Ya'alon, who currently serves as minister of strategic affairs, was one of several Likud members who were summoned to the Prime Minister's Office Sunday morning. Many of the lawmakers from the ruling party expected a promotion.
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"During such a crucial time for the security of the State of Israel, when everything is in turmoil around us, it is important that a man with Moshe Ya'alon's experience hold this position," Netanyahu said. "In the name of all of Israel's citizens, I wish him good luck."
Ya'alon said following the announcement of his new appointment that "the IDF, led by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, has excellent, ideological and experienced commanders leading with responsibility and discretion."
New home front defense minister Erdan (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"It is a huge honor for me to be the defense minister of such worthy soldiers and commanders," he added, while listing a number of significant threats to Israel: Iranian nuclear weapons, the jolt to the Arab world and threats from the north and the Gaza Strip.
MK Danny Danon was named deputy defense minister.
MK Gilad Erdan was appointed minister of home front defense and communications minister. He will also be a member of the Political-Security Cabinet and in charge of Israel's strategic dialogue with the US.
MK Haim Katz said he will continue serving as the head of the Knesset's Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, at Netanyahu's request.
Gideon Sa'ar, who served as education minister in the previous cabinet; was appointed interior minister, while MK Ofir Akunis was named deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office.
Likud MKs Silvan Shalom, Moshe Feiglin, Miri Regev, Yisrael Katz, Yariv Levin, Limor Livnat and Tzipi Hotovely were expected to meet with Netanyahu throughout the day. Outgoing Communications and Welfare Minister Moshe Kahlon is also expected to discuss his future with the prime minister. Prior to the January 22 elections, Netanyahu announced that Kahlon will be appointed head of the Israel Land Administration.
Netanyahu's third government is expected to include Likud MKs who served as ministers in his previous cabinet. Yisrael Katz will apparently stay on as transportation minister, while Livnat is expected to keep the culture and sport portfolio.
Steinitz will apparently be appointed as minister of energy and water resources. Silvan Shalom is also expected to get a ministerial portfolio, which has yet to be determined.
Also on Sunday, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett met separately with all the members of his party to discuss their roles in the next government.
Bennett informed MK Uri Orbach that he will serve as minister of pensioner affairs and will also be a member of the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report
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