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      Dichter Will Give Netanyahu More Support for Iran Strike

      Avi Dichter's appointment as Minister of Home Front Defense was aimed at giving Netanyahu additional support for a military strike in Iran.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 8/15/2012, 6:10 AM

      MK Avi Dichter
      MK Avi Dichter
      Flash 90

      The appointment of Avi Dichter as Minister of Home Front Defense was a move aimed at giving Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu additional support for a military strike in Iran, Channel 2 News reported on Tuesday.

      According to the report, during the talks between Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak and Dichter, it was agreed that Dichter will also join the forum of eight senior ministers, which will now be expanded to include nine ministers. While this forum cannot decide officially to launch a military operation in Iran, its support for such an attack may also have an effect on the other ministers, on the cabinet and on the entire government.

      On Tuesday morning, Dichter addressed his decision to leave Kadima and join the Netanyahu government, saying on his Facebook page, “The State comes first, and then me.”

      “After a long period of deliberation which I did not hide from anyone, I came to the decision to agree to the Prime Minister and Defense Minister’s request and be appointed Minister of Home Front Defense,” wrote Dichter, who officially tendered his resignation on Tuesday afternoon to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.

      Dichter chose to resign from the Knesset and then be appointed as a minister who is not member of any party or Knesset faction rather than leading a move that will bring about a split in Kadima.

      “The partisan and personal considerations were pushed aside and, as I have done in the past 42 years since joining the army, I chose to serve the country in the best way possible,” he wrote. “At this time, I believe that I can do that the best in the role of Minister of Home Front Defense.”

      Dichter will replace Matan Vilnai, who is leaving his position in order to become Israel's ambassador to China. A former head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), Dichter has always been in favor of Kadima joining Netanyahu’s coalition. When he announced that he would be running in the primaries for the party’s leadership, he said that if elected he will have Kadima join the coalition.

      Dichter stressed on Tuesday that he did not betray the voters who elected him to the Knesset, due to the fact that he resigned from Kadima. “Under the circumstances, I did not see it fit to remain in the Knesset on a mandate given to me by Kadima voters. So, I decided to give the mandate back to the Kadima party and resign from the Knesset,” he wrote.

      Netanyahu welcomed Dichter to his new position as he addressed the 350 olim (new immigrants) from North America who arrived in Israel on Tuesday morning.

      “I have decided to appoint Avi Dichter as Home front Defense Minister. He has served as Minister of Internal Security in the past, and 40 years ago we served together in the elite IDF Sayeret Matkal unit,” said Netanyahu. “He is very praiseworthy and now he will have an important responsibility, to contribute to his life’s mission, the defense of the State of Israel.”

      He added, “We are investing in the Home Front Defense on an unprecedented scale, and Minister Avi Dichter will continue these efforts in his new capacity. I am sure you and the Nation of Israel congratulate him on this appointment.”