Israeli government appoints new foreign minister

The Israeli government on Sunday approved the appointment of a new foreign minister to replace Eli Cohen, a statement said, in a pre-arranged reshuffle.

Israel Katz, the current energy minister, will swap positions with Cohen as part of the ministerial rotation that is subject to parliamentary approval.

The government has now approved appointing Eli Cohen to the position of minister of energy and infrastructure… and to appoint Israel Katz to the position of minister of foreign affairs,” the statement said.

Cohen will continue to serve as a member of the security cabinet, a government decision that is also subject to parliamentary approval, it added.

The reshuffle comes more than two months after war broke out between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers, triggered by the militants’ unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7.

In an interview on Israeli radio on Sunday, Cohen acknowledged “the government bears responsibility” for having failed to anticipate the Hamas attack and said an independent commission of inquiry should be established at the end of the war.

The militants’ attack left about 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Israel launched a relentless military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after the October 7 attack. The offensive has killed more than 21,800 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Cohen was appointed foreign minister last year in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government that is widely considered the most right-wing in Israeli history.

Cohen played an instrumental role in the normalisation of relations between Israel and some Arab countries after decades of hostility.

In mid-2020, Israel announced the normalisation of ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco as part of the “Abraham Accords”.

✍️ AFP