Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Sunday, 29 May 2005 15:54 UK

Cigar fires up Israeli minister

Binyamin Netanyahu
Mr Netanyahu is known for his liking for cigars

When Israeli Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took questions on the hot issue of the day he was - quite literally - fuming.

A reporter noticed smoke coming from the minister's suit pocket as he discussed a controversial decision to replace Israel's army chief.

Mr Netanyahu had unwittingly slipped a lit cigar into his jacket as he was walking into a weekly cabinet meeting.

Aided by a fellow minister he tackled the cigar and no-one was hurt.

Smoking jacket

The incident took place during an interview with an army radio reporter.

Minister Netanyahu, you are burning up

"Can't you smell the smoke?" the journalist asked Mr Netanyahu in a sudden switch of conversation, according to news agency Reuters.

"What do you mean?" asked Mr Netanyahu.

"Your cigar is on fire," said the reporter. "The one inside your suit jacket. Minister Netanyahu, you are burning up."

Housing Minister Isaac Herzog joined in and advised his colleague to throw the cigar on the onto the ground, where it was put out.

Mr Netanyahu explained that he put the cigar in his pocket - not knowing it was lit - as smoking in the cabinet room was forbidden.

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