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Israeli Defense Minister to Leave Post

Israel's Defense Minister - harshly criticized for his performance during last summer's war in Lebanon - says he will leave the defense ministry, probably after his Labor party holds a leadership election late this month.

Amir Peretz said in a Saturday interview on Israeli Television (Channel 2) he intends to hand the defense ministry portfolio over to the Kadima party and ask for the finance ministry in exchange.

Peretz and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have been under pressure to resign since the release of a report that said the two men were responsible for serious failures in the war in Lebanon.

Many Israelis consider the war a failure because Israel did not defeat Hezbollah or get back the two soldiers whose kidnapping by the Islamic militant group triggered the war.

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