Israeli ultranationalist sworn in as defense minister

Associated Press

Jerusalem — Israeli ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman has been sworn in as defense minister after his appointment was confirmed by parliament.

Lieberman, one of Israel’s most polarizing politicians, assumed the office on Monday. The post was previously held by former military chief Moshe Yaalon, who resigned last week following talks to expand the government by adding Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party.

The move solidifies Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s parliamentary majority but comes at the risk of antagonizing the international community and the Israeli military, as well as clouding already slim hopes for resuming peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s Cabinet is now dominated by religious and nationalist hard-liners who oppose Palestinian independence — a key goal of the international community and the U.S.-led peace process. Lieberman is a West Bank settler.