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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Accused Israeli minister to quit
Haim Ramon
Haim Ramon strongly denies the accusations against him
Israel's justice minister has announced he is to resign, clearing the way for a trial on charges of sexual misconduct.

The announcement by Haim Ramon comes a day after Israel's attorney general said he wanted to indict the minister over the allegations.

Mr Ramon is accused of forcibly kissing a government employee at a party - an accusation he strongly denies.

This is the latest in a series of cases of alleged impropriety involving Israeli ministers and senior figures.

On Tuesday, the attorney general decided to indict another senior member of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima Party on charges of fraud, bribery and perjury.

Tzachi Hanegbi, the chairman of the foreign affairs and defence committee, has said he is confident that he can prove his innocence.

And the head of the Israeli armed forces, General Dan Halutz, confirmed earlier this week that he sold his entire share portfolio hours before the outbreak of fighting in Lebanon.

The Israeli stock market fell by more than 8% at the start of the war. General Halutz has denied any wrongdoing.

War pressure

The allegations come at a time when Mr Olmert is already under pressure over what is widely perceived in Israel as an ineffective military campaign in Lebanon, says the BBC's Rob Norris in Jerusalem. Opinion polls suggest most Israelis want the prime minister to quit.

Defence minister Amir Peretz is also facing fierce accusations by his political opponents over the inquiry he has announced into the way the military campaign was conducted.

Critics say it will be a whitewash, as the head of the committee was an adviser to Mr Peretz during the conflict.

With all these allegations surfacing at a time when many Israelis already feel the conflict in Lebanon was badly handled, there is a real sense of crisis surrounding Mr Olmert's administration, our correspondent says.






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