Tzipi Livni Named Vice Premier in Israel

The Associated Press
Monday, May 1, 2006; 7:20 AM

JERUSALEM -- Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced his Cabinet appointments Monday, naming Tzipi Livni, a rising star in Israeli politics, as vice premier and foreign minister.

Livni is a senior member of Olmert's Kadima Party and had served as acting foreign minister in recent months. Monday's appointment makes Livni the second most powerful politician in Israel.

The defense portfolio went to Amir Peretz, head of the moderate Labor Party, the junior partner in Olmert's coalition. The posting is considered controversial since Peretz is widely perceived as strong on social issues but inexperienced in military matters. Labor also received six other ministerial appointments, including education, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism.

Israel's elder statesman, Shimon Peres, who switched from Labor to Kadima last year, was given a minor portfolio _ minister in charge of developing the Negev and the Galilee. He was also named deputy prime minister, a title less senior than Livni's rank of vice premier.

Outgoing Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was appointed transportation minister, a significant demotion from his current job.

Kadima's Meir Sheetrit was another of those disappointed. He was considered a leading candidate for the prestigious finance ministry but was appointed housing minister instead. Sheetrit's snubbing apparently clears the way for current Tourism Minister Abraham Hirchson, an Olmert confidante, to lead the finance ministry.

© 2006 The Associated Press