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March 17, 2013 11:39 am

Netanyahu Names Ya’alon Israel’s New Defense Minister, Danon his Deputy

avatar by Zach Pontz

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New Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. Photo: Jini/Haaretz.

Benjamin Netanyahu has appointed Likud Knesset Member Moshe Ya’alon to the post of Defense Minister, replacing Ehud Barak.

“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 thanked Netanyahu for showing confidence in him and 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.”

“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 including Iran, events in the Arab world and threats from the north and the Gaza Strip.

Ya’alon is reported to share the same policies as Netanyahu regarding the Palestinians but when it comes to Iran is seen as being more moderate.

“Yaalon is hawkish about the Palestinians like Netanyahu, but he is cautious on Iran,”  Amotz Asa-El, fellow at the liberal Jerusalem think-tank Hartman Institute, told the Jewish Daily Forward, adding that Yaalon might serve as a “counter-weight” to any renewed bid by Netanyahu to go to war – unless Israel receives hard intelligence Iran is about to go nuclear.

Also Sunday MK Danny Danon was named deputy defense minister. Earlier Danon had dismissed the idea of a deputy ministership as “meaningless.”

“When was the last time the person who came in at No. 5 in the Likud primaries wasn’t made a minister?” he asked on Army Radio. After accepting the position he wrote on his Facebook page that he sees the position as “important” and  it offers  a “real chance to contribute to the state.”

Also Sunday MK Gilad Erdan was appointed minister of home front defense and communications minister, Gideon Sa’ar  was appointed interior minister and MK Ofir Akunis was named deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

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