Binyamin Ben-Eliezer has won the key Israeli defence portfolio in the coalition government being formed by Likud leader and Prime Minister elect Ariel Sharon.
Ben-Eliezer, a former brigadier and currently the Communications Minister, defeated two party rivals in a vote of Labor Party Central Committee members on Friday.
He won 44 per cent of the vote - more than ten points ahead of his nearest rival, the current Deputy Defence Minister, Ephraim Sneh, who polled 32 per cent.
The 1-thousand-650-member Labor Party Central Committee voted at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds.
The third candidate, Matan Vilnai, a former deputy chief of staff and currently Culture, Sports and Science Minister, got 22 per cent of the vote.
The two losers in the race for the Defence Ministry will now join the long list of current and former Labor Party strongmen seeking jobs among the remaining three ministerial portfolios and the two non-portfolio ministerial jobs that Labor won from Sharon's negotiating team in the coalition wheeling and dealing.
Shimon Peres has already been guaranteed the Foreign Ministry and Shalom Simhon the Agriculture Ministry.
"But since 1994, I was one of those who worked very hard and fought for the sake of peace. I was the first to visit Tunis, before I met Arafat in Tunisia before Oslo agreement have been started. They know that all my dreams were and ended in bringing the Palestinians to the table and the table is should be the battle. The battle should be on the table, not outside the table."
SUPER CAPTION: Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israeli Defence Minister elect