JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Knesset approved the appointment of former lawmaker Avi Dichter as home front defense minister.
The 41-26 vote on Thursday came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet unanimously approved the appointment.
Dichter had resigned from the opposition Kadima Party and the Knesset on Tuesday in order to join the government in a ministerial position. The former director of Israel’s Shin Bet security service and ex-minister of internal security had been offered the position hours before in a late-night meeting with Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
He replaces Matan Vilnai, who was named Israel’s ambassador to China. Dichter will be replaced in the Knesset by Israeli-Arab lawmaker Ahmad Dabah.
Dichter joins the government as an independent, not affiliated with any political party, and said he is not trying to split the beleaguered Kadima, the largest opposition party.
Dichter also will join the inner security cabinet and could cast the deciding vote on an Iran strike; its eight members reportedly are split on the issue.