Women join Israel cabinet

ISRAEL'S NEW Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, kept a measure of faith yesterday with the women and Arab voters who helped bring him to power.

He added Yuli Tamir, 45, a human rights campaigner and founder of the Peace Now movement, to his expanded cabinet, along with Marina Solodkin, as deputy minister. This brought the number of women full ministers to two, still one short of the three he promised during his election campaign.

Mr Barak also appointed Nawaf Masalha, a Labour Arab MP, as Deputy Foreign Minister. He had served previously as Deputy Health Minister, but this is the first time a member of the minority community has been named to the more sensitive Foreign Ministry. His appointment came after the nomination of three Arabs to the parliamentary foreign affairs and defence committee.

Yuli Tamir, a professor of philosophy, was given the vacant immigrant absorption portfolio. One of Mr Barak's principal advisers on educational and social policy, she is the second member of his cabinet, with Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Internal Security Minister, with an Oxford doctorate.

In all, Mr Barak appointed five new ministers, bringing the total to 23, and eight new deputy ministers.