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Netanyahu Appoints Israel's First Gay Justice Minister

AMIR OHANA

Amir Ohana, a Likud loyalist to the prime minister, makes history.

A historic dissolving of Israel's parliament has led to the appointment of the nation's first out minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Amir Ohana, a gay man, as acting justice minister, the BBC reports. Netanyahu in an official statement praised the new minister as "a lawyer who is very familiar with the legal system."

"For the first time ever, a member of the LGBT community will be a senior member of the Israeli government," Netanyahu's spokesman Yonatan Urich told The Jerusalem Post.

Ohana, in accepting the appointment, thanked his partner and the couple's children.

"As a Jew, as an Israeli, as the partner of the love of my life Alon Haddad, as the father of Ella and David, as a Mizrachi, as a Likudnik, as a Beersheba native, as a liberal and as a lawyer who has spent thousands of hours in court, it is a great honor to serve Israel as justice minister," he said.

Ohana last year proposed an amendment to a controversial surrogacy law in Israel. Ohana wanted to make sure rights were extended to same-sex couples. The amendment ultimately did not pass, and Netanyahu drew criticism for signing the law anyway.

But the Knesset member, already the first openly gay politician elected as a member of the conservative Likud party, has remained a loyalist to Netanyahu.

Ohana's appointment as justice minister came after Netanyahu fired Ayelet Shakud, with whom he's had a troubled relationship, according to Haaretz. Shakud's new Hayamin Hehadash party failed to win enough seats in recent elections, part of why a coalition could not be formed.

Ohana, in contrast, has a strong relationship with the prime minister. The BBC notes he supports legal reforms that will protect Netanyahu from charges in an ongoing bribery probe.

Criminal charges facing Netanyahu required the prime minister to quickly pick a justice minister. Likud leaders have praised the pick.

The new justice minister's appointment comes just as Jerusalem prepares for its annual Pride parade.

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