It is a further sign that Israeli politics are returning to business as usual after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s massive stroke at the start of the month.
Interim leader Ehud Olmert has carried out a cabinet reshuffle. In the most high-profile appointment, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was given the foreign affairs portfolio. The acting premier filled out his cabinet with members of his centrist Kadima party. Opinion polls predict it will easily win a general election in March. The opposition Labour party however is trying to turn things around and has been holding primaries to pick its candidates for the poll. Leader Amir Peretz is guaranteed top place on the list. Ariel Sharon meanwhile remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital. Overnight he had surgery to replace a breathing tube.