Peretz Considers Druze Activist for Cabinet

The Labor Party chair, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, is considering appointing a central activist from the Druze sector as minister of science, culture and technology. Shakib Shanan, who was a leader of the Peretz camp in the Druze sector during the last election campaign, is from the Upper Galilee Druze town of Hurfeish. He was number 20 on Labor's Knesset list in last March's election, with only a few dozen votes separating him from a seat in the legislature.

Shanan said Peretz had promised to place him in the Knesset by appointing one of the other members of the faction to a ministerial post, on condition that the individual would give up his Knesset seat. MK Ophir Pines-Paz resigned the post in protest over Avigdor Lieberman's faction joining the coalition.

Peretz has tried in recent weeks to find a Labor MK who would agree to give up his Knesset seat in exchange for a ministerial post. At the same time, he has been pressed by Arab Labor Party activists to appoint Shanan as a minister.

Peretz's associates said he has failed to find anyone in the faction who would declare loyalty to the party chairman after taking up the ministerial position. They confirmed that Shanan leads the short list.