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Netanyahu welcomes new immigration minister Yoav Gallant to Likud

FILE: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and former Housing Minister Yoav Galant, arrive for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 15, 2016.
(Gali Tibbon/Pool Photo via AP)

Hours after Yoav Gallant was sworn in as immigration minister on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on announced that the former member of the Kulanu party would join the Likud party.

Netanyahu said  he was  “deeply impressed by (Gallant’s) seriousness and professionalism. Your presence in the cabinet helped me and the government make important decisions, some of them very bold, in order to deal with the challenges around us. First, to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria, something we are doing successfully. as well as other actions that are best not spoken of.”

“Your contribution to the Likud party will not be any less great. I welcome you,” Netanyahu concluded.

Gallant in return said he was proud to join Likud and looked forward to “playing a central role in security and economic decisions.”

“In recent years I have been closely following the impressive way in which you led the State of Israel in a busy world and in a hostile region. I see the calm way you make very complex decisions regarding the security of the State of Israel,” the new immigration minister added.

As the minister of immigration, and with his 35 years of military experience, Gallant will be a part of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, which consists of 10 high level ministers.

The new Likud member was welcomed as a new poll on Tuesday night revealed a closing gap between Netanyahu and former IDF chief of staff, Benny Gantz.

(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The poll which was conducted by Midgam Project Web Panel and Statnet and aired on Israel’s Channel 10, showed 41% prefered Netanyahu as prime minister while 38% picked Gantz.

49% said they did not believe Netanyahu who claims his innocence in a number three corruption allegations against him, which Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is now investigating. 33% said they believe the prime minister.

In an unprecedented TV appearance on Monday, Netanyahu took the opportunity to call out the legal systems in Israel that he claimed were being used to perpetrate an injustice against him, decrying that he was twice refused the ability to confront the state witnesses in the cases.

“Today, I reveal to you that during my investigations, I demanded a face-to-face confrontation with states witnesses. I was refused. I asked again. I was refused again,” he told his captive national audience.

The prime minister has faced widespread criticism in recent days for his efforts to publicly urge the Attorney General not to issue his decision on indictments before the elections.

In his Monday speech, he said he has the right to criticize the legal proceedings and again argued that the attorney general moving to indict him before elections would be unjust.

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