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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 April 2007, 06:59 GMT 07:59 UK
Israeli minister suspends himself
Israeli finance minister Avraham Hirchson
The allegations are linked to Mr Hirchson's time as a union head
Israel's finance minister says he will step down from his post temporarily while police probe a case of suspected embezzlement by a former employee.

Avraham Hirchson is under investigation for failing to report an embezzlement which took place in 2003.

When he was head of a workers' union, Mr Hirchson was told by an employee that he had taken 5.6m shekels ($1.3m; 700,000) to pay for gambling debts.

Although Mr Hirchson suspended the employee, he did not report the fraud.

His lawyer, Yaakov Weinrot, said the minister had stepped down because he needed "all the energies to fight the suspicions against him".

"So it would not be right to perform the operational role of finance minister," he added.

The finance ministry made no immediate comment on Mr Hirchson's decision.

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