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Israeli premier names new defense minister

Sunday - 3/17/2013, 9:20am  ET

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appointed former military chief Moshe Yaalon as defense minister.

Yaalon, widely known by his nickname "Bogie," has said the Iranian nuclear program is Israel's top security concern. He also is known to hold hard-line views toward the Palestinians.

Yaalon was Israel's military chief from 2002 to 2005, and served as vice premier in Israel's outgoing government. In that position, he served in Netanyahu's security Cabinet, which dealt with sensitive matters.

Yaalon will replace Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is retiring.

Netanyahu said Sunday that Yaalon has the experience to lead the country's defense during a "decisive period for the security of Israel, as the region around us rages."

The new government is to be sworn in Monday.


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