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Israel’s new foreign minister, the man without a tie

In Israel’s Foreign Ministry, diplomats hope that their new minister, former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, can extract the ministry from the terrible budget cuts it has suffered over the past few years.

The unity agreement signed April 20 establishes the largest government in Israel’s history, with ministerial portfolios equally divided between the Likud and the Blue and White party. Blue and White head Benny Gantz will assume the double role of deputy prime minister and defense minister, while his No. 2, Gabi Ashkenazi, will receive the foreign affairs portfolio.

Israeli diplomats received the news about Ashkenazi with some apprehension. Ashkenazi has had a long and impressive career in the army, culminating with his appointment as the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff in 2007. In between, he served one year as director general of the Defense Ministry, under then-Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

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