Israeli parliament approves appointments of new ministers

13:19, January 20, 2011      

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by Gur Salomon

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) on Wednesday afternoon approved a set of ministerial appointments of former Labor Party members who are slated to comprise Defense Minister Ehud Barak's new "Independence" faction.

Barak on Monday stunned Israel's political establishment by announcing his decision to quit Labor's top post and create a new faction in the government coalition, taking along with him four Labor legislators.

He and his allies explained that the move followed months of bitter strife within the faction and their own inability to function under constant threats by ministers and lawmakers to split the party unless it breaks away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

The announcement triggered a chain reaction, with Labor's remaining ministers submitting their resignation within hours after Barak's televised press conference.

Netanyahu entered negotiations with Barak later that night over the portfolios that Independence party would receive.

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