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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given up his efforts to appoint loyalists Ze'ev Boim and Roni Bar-On to the cabinet, sources close to Sharon said.
After the appointments of Boim and Bar-On were voted down in the Knesset two weeks ago, Sharon invited the two into his office and promised them that they would become ministers "before the next election."
But a Sharon associate said on Wednesday that "Boim and Bar-On are going to have to wait for the next government."
Boim responded by saying that "the most important thing right now is the Likud getting re-elected, uniting the party and nothing else."
According to Knesset bylaws, Sharon would have been able to appoint cabinet ministers without Knesset approval had he been toppled in a no-confidence vote or if he had asked President Moshe Katsav to dissolve the Knesset. But, if as planned, an agreement is reached with new Labor chairman Amir Peretz on a date for the election that will be approved by the Knesset, ministers would still need Knesset approval.
Because Sharon has no majority for appointing ministers, if Labor ministers quit, he would have no choice but to appoint temporary ministers from among the current Likud ministers to replace them.
That means that Ehud Olmert, whose current titles include vice prime minister, finance minister, minister of industry, trade and labor, and the minister in charge of the Israel Lands Administration, could soon gain more portfolios.
Asked whether he was interested in becoming interior minister, minister of housing and construction and national infrastructures minister, Olmert joked that if the environment ministry were included he would "consider it."
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