Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Appoint New Finance Minister

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be forced to appoint a new Finance Minister despite his intentions to take over the portfolio himself.

Hana Levi Julian ,

Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz ruled this week that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must find a new Finance Minister by the end of May to replace Avraham Hirschson.


The self-suspended Finance Minister is facing allegations of embezzling funds from a nonprofit organization linked to the Histadrut National Labor Union.


Olmert had announced his intention to serve as Finance Minister while current minister Avraham Hirschson is suspended from duty.


Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz has warned Olmert that his intention to hold the Finance portfolio while serving as Prime Minister is “problematic” and recommended that he find someone else to fill the position.


The Attorney-General reportedly objected to Prime Minister Olmert's serving as Finance Minister because the Prime Minister himself is the subject of an ongoing investigation into his involvement in the sale of the government's shares of Bank Leumi.


Prime Minister Olmert claimed Thursday that there is no discrepancy between his decision to take temporary control of the Finance Ministry and the Attorney-General’s concerns that the decision to hold the two senior positions at once could be problematic.


Nonetheless, aides said by late Thursday that Prime Minister will comply with the Attorney-General’s recommendation to find someone else to fill the post by the end of May.


The Land of Israel Legal Forum meanwhile released a statement on Thursday afternoon threatening to file a petition with the Supreme Court if Prime Minister Olmert does not appoint a new Finance Minister within one week.


“We won’t let Olmert play political games while waiting for Ramon,” the group said, implying that Olmert is planning to appoint former Justice Minister Chaim Ramon to replace the suspended Finance Minister.

The former Justice Minister was convicted several months ago of sexual misconduct with a former subordinate. “If Olmert wants ideas for a candidate without criminal investigations against him, we would be happy to help,” said the group.