Barak Declines Cabinet Offer As Interior Ministry Post Opens

The former Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, has declined an offer to become Israel’s interior minister.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin reportedly offered Barak the post, which is being vacated by Uzi Baram.

Baram is giving up the position because his wife is seriously ill. He said he plans, however, to retain his post as tourism minister.

Barak left the IDF earlier this year. According to regulations, he cannot take on a government position until mid-June.

Israeli media quoted Barak as saying that if he were to join the government, he would prefer doing so in mid-November.

Baram was appointed interior minister three months ago. The post had been vacant since the fall of 1993, when former Interior Minister Aryeh Deri of the fervently religious Shas Party was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

Deri also stepped down from the post of Religious Affairs, which has since been filled by Economics Minister Shimon Shetreet.

Prior to the appointments of Baram and Shetreet, members of the Meretz bloc, Rabin’s junior coalition partner, had claimed the portfolios, arguing that their party was under represented in the Cabinet.

The Israeli daily Ha’aretz quoted Labor Party sources saying that Meretz is not entitled to any more seats, but the Labor Party should actually receive two more appointments.

Meretz Environment Minister Yossi Sarid, who had demanded the Interior Ministry portfolio earlier this year, has said he did not plan to ask for it this time around.

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