Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet approved creation of a new ministry for Ariel Sharon on Sunday, capping a three-week effort to bring the combative retired general into the government.

Netanyahu spokesman Shai Bazak confirmed radio reports on the agreement and said Netanyahu would delay his trip to the United States by two hours Monday to appear before Parliament and swear in Sharon as the new infrastructures minister.There was no immediate public comment from Sharon, who reportedly spoke with Netanyahu earlier in the evening.

Netanyahu came under intense pressure from members of his Likud Party to find a respectable position for Sharon, who helped secure Netanyahu's come-from-behind victory over Shimon Peres in the May 29 election but was left out in the coalition negotiations to form the government.

Foreign Minister David Levy threatened to quit unless Sharon, a champion of Jewish settlers and architect of Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, was appointed before Netanyahu's departure for the United States.

The issue had been hung up over the refusal of Deputy Housing Minister Meir Porush, head of the Ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party, to hand over control to Sharon of two authorities under his ministry.

According to Israel TV, Porush finally agreed to give up the $500 million public works department, which handles roads and employs more than 1,000 people.

The Infrastructure Ministry is also to include authority over oil refineries and pipelines, fuel imports and research, electricity, railroads, water and sewage.

In addition, Sharon will be responsible for development in the southern Negev and northern Galilee regions and for bypass roads around West Bank cities for Jewish settlers.