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Israeli Cabinet Approves Country's First Arab Muslim Minister


Israel's Cabinet has voted overwhelmingly to appoint the country's first Arab Muslim minister.

Raleb Majadele of the center-left Labor Party was approved as a minister without portfolio at a Cabinet meeting Sunday in Jerusalem. Only one Israeli minister, ultranationalist politician Avigdor Lieberman, voted against the appointment.

Labor nominated 53-year-old Majadele as a minister to counter the influence of Lieberman, a controversial figure who joined the Cabinet last year. Critics accuse Lieberman of racism for his comments on Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.

Lieberman advocates transferring Palestinians out of parts of the West Bank and redrawing Israel's borders to exclude Israeli Arab communities.

Once Majadele is sworn in by parliament, he will become the first Israeli Arab Muslim minster in Israel's history. Israeli Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel's population. Many complain of discrimination by the country's Jewish majority.

Labor is a senior coalition partner in Israel's government, which is led by the Kadima Party of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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