The following are profiles of key ministers in the incoming Israeli government:

Prime Minister 

Ariel Sharon, 73, of the right-wing Likud Party. Nicknamed the "bulldozer," Sharon won a landslide election last month after promising to halt the ongoing violence with the Palestinians and restore security to Israel. The former general, who was deeply involved in each of Israel's five wars, does not believe a final peace accord with the Palestinians is possible at this stage. At most, he says he would seek a long-term interim agreement. 

 

Foreign Minister 

Shimon Peres, 77, of the center-left Labor Party. Peres was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace prize for orchestrating the first peace accord with the Palestinians in 1993. He has good relations with Palestinian leaders and hopes to keep channels of communication open despite the violence. 

 

Defense Minister 

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, 65, is a member of the Labor Party, but is considered relatively hawkish on security issues. He served in the army for 28 years, and in his final post was responsible for the volatile Palestinian areas, with the rank of brigadier general. 

 

Finance Minister 

Silvan Shalom, 42, of the Likud Party. An economist and an accountant, Shalom has served as an adviser to the finance minister. A member of parliament since 1992, he has also served as deputy defense minister and science minister. 

 

Interior Minister 

Eli Yishai, 38, of the Shas religious party. Yishai studied in a religious seminary and served as a member of Jerusalem's municipal council before he was elected to parliament in 1996. He served as labor and social affairs minister before Shas withdrew from the outgoing government last year. 

 

Housing and Construction Minister 

Natan Sharansky, 53, leader of the Israel B'Aliya immigrants party. Sharansky was born in Ukraine and spent nine years in Soviet prisons for his activism before immigrating to Israel. He resigned his position as interior minister in the outgoing government in opposition to concessions offered to the Palestinians in peace talks.