Eleven of the 22 new government ministers assumed their roles in special ceremonies marking the transition on Tuesday.
First to assume his post was Moshe Ya'alon who took over as defense minister from Ehud Barak. Ya'alon is the fifth Israeli chief of staff to become defense minister after Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, Shaul Mofaz and Barak.
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At a ceremony in the Kirya base in Tel Aviv, Barak said, "Bogie (Ya'alon's nickname) is a man who in and out of uniform knows where he's at, always steady. He says what he thinks and does what he says." Ya'alon on his part said he is aware of the great responsibility that comes with the job.
With Benny Gantz (Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
Later on Tuesday, Gideon Sa'ar was welcomed into the Interior Ministry which parted with Eli Yishai (Shas). Surveying his time at the ministry, Yishai said that handling the infiltrators issue was his top mission.
"I waged an uncompromising battle and blocked their entry, that is a major achievement." He praised Sa'ar as a "talented and hardworking" minister who looks out for "the little man."
Ya'alon in Kirya base (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Photo: Yaron Brener
Sa'ar declared his plans to carry out an overhaul in the ministry and noted he was the first Likud member to become interior minister.
At the Finance Ministry, Yuval Steinitz handed over the keys to Yair Lapid. Steinitz admitted, “I enjoyed it and sometimes I also suffered. The first months were difficult, it was not clear if we would succeed in dealing with the recession and protecting the Israeli economy and the country’s citizens.”
Lapid and Steinitz (Photo: Ido Erez)
He had a message for Lapid, “I hand over to you, Yair, the country and the economy in a better state than I received them.” Lapid congratulated Steinitz on his achievements and said, “I have yet to get used to speaking in the name of Israel, but in the name of Israel, we all thank you.”
Also Tuesday, Hatunua's Tzipi Livni assumed the position of Justice Minister. Livni said she regards the peace process, which she will oversee, and the role of justice minister as "two sides of the same coin as they represent a struggle for a Jewish and democratic State of Israel."
Sa'ar with Shay Piron (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Yishai and Sa'ar (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
She further added, “I came to protect the courthouses and the law, and the Justice Ministry is a field of battle. It is a beacon of light for Israeli society.” She emphasized, “I intend to fight racism, and make sure there is a steep price to pay for ‘price tags.’”
According to Livni, it is her intention to protect the justice organizations, but also to hold discussions on how to strengthen the public’s faith in the justice system, which is deserving of criticism as well.
Livni and Ne'eman (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Religious Services Minister Ya'akov Margi (Shas) parted with the ministry and handed it over to Habayit Hayehudi's Naftali Bennett and new Deputy Minister Eli Ben-Dahan. Bennett said, “This is the elite unit of Judaism in the state of Israel and the responsibility is enormous.”
He emphasized that one of the goals Habayit Hayehudi took upon itself was the “return of the Jewish soul to the country,” and this they desired to do within the ministry. “This is a ministry for the purification of god,” he said.
Tuesday also saw Shay Piron taking up his post at the Education Ministry, Meir Cohen doing the same at the Welfare Ministry, Gilad Erdan at the Communications Ministry and Bennett at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.
Yoav Zitun, Aviel Magnezi, Omri Efraim, Shahar Chai, Boaz Fyler, Kobi Nahshoni, and Noam (Dabul) Dvir contributed to this report
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