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Israeli Minister Resigns over Addition of Extreme-right Party
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Israeli Science, Technology, Culture and Sports Minister Ophir Pines-Paz announced his resignation on Monday, Israel's newspaper Ha'aretz reported on its website.

His resignation came shortly after the cabinet approved the entry of Avigdor Lieberman and its extreme-right party Yisrael Beiteinu into the government.

Speaking at a press conference, Pines-Paz said that there had been no other option left to him in the wake of the cabinet vote, adding that he had fought as hard as he could against Lieberman's inclusion in the government and had resigned for reasons of conscience.

Pines-Paz, member of the left-wing Labor party, was the only cabinet member to vote against the inclusion of the Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman.

Meanwhile, he also revealed at the conference that he will ran for the leadership of the Labor party in next elections, adding that Labor's leadership should be replaced.

The inclusion of Yisrael Beiteinu party would add 11 Knesset (parliament) seats to the 67-seat coalition, ensuring enough support for the government in important parliamentary votes, including the 2007 budget.

The government would collapse if the budget failed to be passed by March.

On Oct. 23, Olmert and Lieberman signed an agreement on the party's joining the coalition, which was seen as Olmert's efforts to bolster his shaky six-month-old government.

Shortly after the agreement was signed, five out of Labor Party's 19 legislators submitted a letter calling on the left-wing faction to oppose the addition of the extreme-right party.

Later, the central committee of the Labor Party voted on Sunday night to remain in the government.

The newspaper also reported that Lieberman, who has long taken a tough line toward the Palestinians as well as Israel's own Arab minority, was appointed as deputy prime minister and strategic threats minister in the Israeli cabinet.

(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2006)



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