Israel names Muslim as cabinet minister
The Israeli cabinet approved Sunday by a large majority the appointment of Ghaleb Majadele (Labor) as the first Arab minister in Israel's history, Israel Radio reported. Minister for strategic threats Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu) was the only minister to object to the appointment. The Parliament (Knesset) will vote on Monday on the cabinet decision to appoint Majadele as minister.
Majadele will be a minister without portfolio, despite the initial intention of Labor Party Chairman and DM Amir Peretz to appoint him as Minister of Science, Sports, and Culture under MK Ophir Pines-Paz who resigned nearly three months ago.
Amir Peretz said the "historic" appointment would improve relationships among different groups in Israel. Majadele replaces Ophir Pines-Paz who quit last October in protest at the addition of ultra-nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu to the coalition. The Labour leader aadded Majadele's inclusion in the cabinet will balance the presence of Lieberman, leader of Yisrael Beiteinu. "It's great news for the Arab public. It's a correct step in the direction of equality. We have many challenges ahead of us," Mr Majadele said.
However, Majadele's appointment has drawn angry criticism from right parties.
Esterina Tartman, chairman of Yisrael Beitenu, said Majadele's appointment was a "lethal blow to Zionism", Haaretz has reported.