The Knesset on Thursday swore in Avi Dichter as Israel’s new home front defense minister after approving by a large margin — 41 in favor versus 26 against — the government’s motion to appoint him.
On Wednesday, the government unanimously approved the former Shin Bet chief’s appointment, a day after Dichter left the Kadima party and resigned from the Knesset in order to join the government.
Dichter’s appointment was confirmed in late-night meetings on Tuesday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
With his appointment, Dichter joins the inner security cabinet, consisting of Netanyahu, Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Vice Prime Minister Dan Meridor, and Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin.
The octet was reportedly split 50-50 between those in favor of a strike on Iran (Netanyahu, Barak, Liberman, and Ya’alon) and those against (Steinitz, Yishai, Meridor, and Begin). Dichter’s inclusion could provide the tie-breaking vote, should the issue arise.
Dichter replaced Matan Vilnai, who is set to take over as Israel’s ambassador to China. Dichter’s Knesset seat will be taken up by Ahmad Dabah, a supporter of the party’s embattled leader Shaul Mofaz who helped Mofaz garner votes among Arab Israelis.
Sam Ser and Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.