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Israel Prime Minister Olmert Removes Defense Minister Peretz January 4, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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JERUSALEM (AP)–Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided to remove his defense minister, Amir Peretz, two Israeli TV stations reported Thursday.

Citing sources in Olmert’s office, Israel TV and Channel 2 said Peretz would be asked to resign and take another Cabinet position, and if he refused, he would be fired.

Olmert’s office denied the reports.

Peretz, leader of the dovish Labor Party, took the post of defense minister when Olmert, leader of the centrist Kadima Party, formed his government in May. Peretz, who has a limited security background and ran his campaign on social issues, has come under fire, along with Olmert, because of the inconclusive results of last summer’s war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Labor is Kadima’s main coalition partner. If Olmert dismisses Peretz, it could provoke a political crisis leading to new elections.

However, Peretz has also lost standing in his own party, and some leading Labor ministers have called on him to step down from the Defense Ministry and take a social affairs portfolio instead.

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