Calling himself a defense minister with a "social orientation," Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz stole the show Sunday as he took up his new post as the country's 16th defense minister during an emotional ceremony.
"This is a very emotional moment for me," Peretz said, claiming that upon entering the Kirya IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, named after prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, he began to feel the new burden of responsibility now on his shoulders.
"I am entering fearfully, but I plan to fulfill my job with my full loyalty and without any restraints for the sake of Israel's security," he said.
Outgoing defense minister Shaul Mofaz said the security establishment, under his leadership, had managed to reduce terrorism by 90 percent. He urged his successor to invest his efforts in continuing to do the same.
"I want to thank the Creator who has given me the privilege to be a part of the defense establishment," Mofaz said as he departed the ministry he headed for the past three years.
He also expressed confidence in Peretz's ability to head the defense establishment "wisely and responsibly," as he was being entrusted with "one of [Israel's] most sensitive, complex and important systems."
As he took the reins, Peretz paid homage to Mofaz, saying he saw him as "an officer and a gentleman, a leader and above all a man."
Turning to the Palestinians, Peretz, in his first public address in his new position, called for a cessation of all anti-Israel terror activity.
"You will not achieve your goals through terror," he said. "You need to abandon the path of terror and incitement and only then will you deserve to see an outstretched hand of peace."