Science and Technology, Culture and Sports Minister Ghaleb Majadle called Saturday on Amir Peretz to stay in the government. According to Majadle, Peretz must continue to act as defense minister until a dialogue is formed between himself and recently elected Labor chair Ehud Barak. "The party's unity is of utmost importance, and all members must work together to achieve its rehabilitation," said the minister. On Friday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Barak decided that the new Labor chairman should take over the Defense portfolio as soon as possible in light of the situation in the Gaza Strip.
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Israel Radio reported that in an expedited process, cabinet ministers were contacted by phone and asked to approve Barak's appointment as defense minister. The appointment passed, and is expected to be approved by the Knesset on Monday.
According to the report, Barak also told Olmert that he has no intention of reneging on his demands that Olmert resign until the Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War releases its final report.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced Friday that he would step down as soon as the Knesset approved Barak's appointment.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report/