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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister and offered the post to Moshe Arens. The premier decided to dismiss Yitzhak Mordechai amid mounting speculation that the popular former general will take over the leadership of a new centrist party and square off against Netanyahu in the May vote for prime minister. Arens, who is challenging Netanyahu for the leadership of the Likud Party, said he would reply to the premier’s offer after the party primary is held Monday.

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