Knesset Approves Ayalon Appointment as Minister Without Portfolio

Appointment passes by majority of 35 votes to 11; Ayalon rebuked for reversing stance over Olmert gov't.

The Knesset on Monday approved the appointment of MK Ami Ayalon (Labor) to the position of minister without a portfolio by a majority of 35 votes to 11.

Ayalon will serve as a member of the Ministerial Committee on Security Issues, chairman of the Knesset State Control Committee and be responsible for implementing the recommendations of the state comptroller's report on the performance of the Home Front Command during the Second Lebanon War.

Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum criticized Ayalon for changing his stance towards Olmert's government, which he had previously vowed to work for its removal.

"This is a discussion on a matter of principal which reflects on the image of our political system in the eyes of the disappointed public," Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) said. "The question is whether in our political system a promise is indeed a promise, or whether it can be broken without any explanation."

Labor's MK Eitan Cabel whose resignation from his ministerial post four months ago following the partial publication of Lebanon war probe findings made the portfolio available for Ayalon rebuked his co-partisan, saying he thought it was "the wrong time fore Ayalon to join the government."

"I hope that this government won't last," Cabel said. "At least we agree on one thing, and that is that Olmert must be replaced and that this government's tenure should be shortened."