Government approves security cabinet

Includes 7 Kadima ministers, 3 Labor members, and one each from Shas, Gil.

The government approved on Sunday the security cabinet, comprising twelve MKs - seven from Kadima, three from Labor, one from the Gil Pensioners' Party, and one from Shas. The Labor representatives in the cabinet will be Defense Minster Amir Peretz, Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, and Ophir Paz-Pines. Other ministers will be extended invitations to participate in the cabinet meetings. Half the members of the security cabinet are ex officio, their membership required by law. They are Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Justice Minister Haim Ramon, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter. The remaining members were chosen according to relative party representation in the coalition. Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz were the two Kadima ministers whose participation in the cabinet was not required by law. The security cabinet - together with the chiefs of the IDF and intelligence services - is also convened in times of emergency, after major terrorist attacks and before large IDF operations to make decisions that can't wait for the regular Sunday government meetings. By law, the security cabinet cannot have more members then half the number of the government's ministers, which in this cabinet means 12, including the prime minister. In former administrations the cabinet included a much smaller membership and when the number of members grew, most prime ministers founded their own more exclusive circle of ministers to make the crucial decisions. Despite this, membership in the security cabinet is still a much-coveted appointment, creating in effect a two-tier system, with first- and second-class ministers. There has been much jockeying during the last couple of weeks among the cabinet candidates over who will get to sit with the big boys.