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The BBC's Frank Gardner
"The pressure will be on him to deliver"
 real 56k

David Horowitz, editor of The Jerusalem Report
"I think the coalition, in its current form, cannot hold together"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 March, 2001, 18:35 GMT
Israeli Government takes shape
Salah Tarif and Shimon Peres
Salah Tarif and Shimon Peres will both be ministers
The new Israeli Government of Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon is taking shape, with ministers chosen from several parties across the political spectrum.

Mr Sharon has given cabinet jobs to two small ultra-nationalist right-wing parties, and an Arab has been included in the cabinet for the first time.

The defeated Labour Party has begun filling the eight posts promised to it, choosing former general Binyamin Ben Eliezer as defence minister and confirming former Prime Minister Shimon Peres as foreign minister.

Palestinian stonethrowers
Palestinian stone-throwers clamber up a barricade in the West Bank
The appointments were announced as violence continued in the Palestinian territories, where four Palestinians, two of them children, were reported killed.

A nine-year-old boy was shot dead when Israeli troops returned fire at Palestinian militants near the West Bank town of El Bireh.

And a 13-year-old died of bullet wounds inflicted earlier in the week by Israeli troops near the Karni crossing point into the Gaza Strip.

Boost for Sharon

Two ultra-nationalist groups, the Russian party Yisrael Beitenu and the National Union Party, agreed to join the new government on Friday, taking three ministerial posts between them.

Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon: Racing to form a coalition government
BBC Jerusalem correspondent Frank Gardner says the parties' inclusion is a boost for Mr Sharon, who has promised to put together a broad-based government.

But the inclusion of far-right politicians could lay the grounds for future political infighting.

Labour nominees

And questions are likely to be asked in the Labour Party about how much common ground there could be between political opposites.

Cabinet nominees
Foreign Minister - Shimon Peres (Labour)
Defence - Binyamin Ben Eliezer (Labour)
Transport - Ephraim Sneh (Labour)
Tourism - Rehavam Zeevi (National Union Party)
Agriculture - Shalom Simhon (Labour)
Infrastructure - Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu)
Industry and Trade - Dalya Itzik (Labour)
Science, Culture and Sport - Matan Vilnai (Labour)
Without Portfolio - Raanen Kohen and Salah Tarif (both Labour)
Mr Peres was elected unopposed as Labour's nominee for foreign minister at a party convention in Tel Aviv.

Salah Tarif, a member of the Druze community, is also a Labour nominee. He will take a ministerial post without portfolio.

A spokesman for the young, relatively unknown politician, said he would be serving in the prime minister's office dealing with all non-Jewish communities inside Israel.

Mr Ben Eliezer's selection for the defence post brought a warning from a senior Palestinian official.

Zakariya al-Agha, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said: "The new government and the next minister of defence must learn from what has passed, and that their use of force did not cause the Palestinian people to surrender.

"Any increase in force will backfire and damage Israel's security first."

Breakthrough

Since being elected prime minister last month, Mr Sharon has been racing to put together a coalition.

He is expected to present his proposed national unity government to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, for approval next week.

A breakthrough came earlier this week when Mr Peres persuaded his party to join the government in the face of strong opposition from some members, who denounced the move as a betrayal of the peace process.

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See also:

03 Mar 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Balancing right with left
02 Mar 01 | Middle East
Four die in Mid-East violence
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