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The reshuffling of the coalition government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is taking longer than originally hoped, in large part because of the delay in the appointment of a finance minister.

That appointment was originally scheduled to be made early this week, and is considered the lynchpin for all the other appointments.

The leading candidates for the treasury are Interior Minister Roni Bar-On and MK Haim Ramon, both of whom are interested in the posts.

Olmert held talks with his advisers last night, and afterward it was announced that an appointment for finance minister will not be made until next Wednesday. This delay will also violate Olmert's commitment to appoint a finance minister by tomorrow.

Aides call delay inevitable

Olmert's commitment to the Wednesday deadline is directly linked to the extensions that the State Attorney's office has managed to gain from the Supreme Court, where petitions against Olmert holding the treasury portfolio had been filed by various parties.

Olmert's aides explained that the delay was inevitable because of the prime minister's trip to the United States, and his wish to make the best and most professional choice.

The prime minister has still not decided whom of the two candidates he will select for the Treasury.

Both are considered close associates, but Olmert is keen to offer an appointment that is not controversial.