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|Thursday, August 10, 2000, updated at 18:04(GMT+8)|
Barak Names Ben-Ami as Acting Foreign MinisterIsraeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak Thursday morning appointed Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami as Acting Foreign Minister, Barak's office announced.
Ben-Ami, a leading dovish politician in Israel, will replace former Foreign Minister David Levy, who resigned last Wednesday due to differences with Barak over Israel's negotiating approaches in the talks with the Palestinian side.
Ben-Ami, a professor-turned-politician, has been involved in various peace negotiations with Israel's Arab neighbors. He held the so-called back-channel talks with Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) in Stockholm in May, which laid the foundation for last month's Camp David summit talks.
The 57-year-old minister was born in Morocco and immigrated to Israel in 1955. He later graduated from Tel Aviv University and got his doctorate from Oxford University (England). As a professional diplomat, he once served as Israeli ambassador to Spain from 1987 to 1991.
His appointment as Acting Foreign Minister will facilitate his tour to Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Morocco next week, in an effort to explain to these countries' leaders Israeli views regarding the peace process.
The appointment was part of a series of cabinet reshuffle, which began last Sunday with Barak's nomination of four ministers to hold concurrent posts.
Communications Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer has also taken up the Construction and Housing Minister post, while Minister in Prime Minister's Office Haim Ramon has also got an additional portfolio of Interior Minister.
Justice Minister Yossi Beilin will also head the Religious Affairs Ministry, and Finance Minister Avraham Shochat will act as National Infrastructure Minister concurrently.
The Barak cabinet had been reduced from 23 ministers to 12 ministers following a series of cabinet crises regarding the peace talks with the Palestinians.กก
Under Israel's Basic Law, however, Barak has no right to appoint new ministers to his cabinet without Knesset (Parliament) approval, which had begun its summer recess last Wednesday and will not reconvene until the end of October.กก
Barak still holds five ministerial posts temporarily. He is hoping to fill the vacuum when he finishes coalition talks with Shas, Meretz, or even the major opposition Likud party.
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