Barak rushed to Defense Ministry


The Israeli government is expediting Ehud Barak’s appointment as new defense minister.

Barak, who toppled Amir Peretz as Labor Party chief last week, is expected to formally assume Peretz’s defense portfolio Monday in a rushed Knesset ratification vote.

The decision was made Friday by Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who enlisted the support of his Cabinet.

Government officials said the Palestinian crisis in Gaza warranted the quick appointment of a new and experienced Israeli defense minister, but the procedure raised eyebrows in Labor, Olmert’s biggest coalition partner. During his campaign for party chief, Barak vowed to give Olmert an ultimatum to resign over the failures of the Lebanon war.

Despite his speedy assimilation in the Olmert government, Barak was quoted as saying over the weekend that he still seeks the prime minister’s ouster.

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