Olmert Postpones Appointment of New Finance Minister to Next Week

Leading candidates include Sheetrit, Bar-On, and Ramon; Netanyahu denies negotiations with PM.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided to postpone the appointment of the finance minister to next week. Meir Sheetrit, Roni Bar-On, and Haim Ramon, all from Olmert's Kadima party, are slated as leading candidates.

The newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth published Monday that Olmert is considering offering the position to Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu- a move initiated by Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik (Labor).

Netanyahu's office denied reports of Likud joining Olmert's government, and maintained he was working to topple to government. Olmert aides, however, confirmed the contacts between the two leaders.

Haaretz website reported Monday that Netanyahu and Olmert secretly met on Sunday. Likud members were puzzled by the fact that Netanyahu failed to notify them of the meeting during Monday's party assembly.

A spokesperson for Netanyahu said that in their meeting Sunday Olmert and Netanyahu discussed matters of state ahead of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit and updated each other on the details of their recent visits to the Unite States.