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Israel’s finance minister formally quit over a fraud and embezzlement investigation against him. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed his Cabinet on Sunday that Abraham Hirchson told him he was relinquishing the finance portfolio. Hirchson took a leave of absence in April after police started probing allegations that he pocketed funds while in a previous post. Hirchson has denied wrongdoing. Leading candidates to replace him include Roni Bar-On, currently Israel’s interior minister, and former Justice Minister Haim Ramon. But Ramon’s prospects have been clouded by his conviction on charges of sexual misconduct after he admitted to forcing a kiss last year on a female soldier.

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