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Bank of Israel governor David Klein and Finance Minister Silvan Shalom, who arrived at the cabinet meeting at 11:00 am today to provide an economic review, were surprised to discover that the ministers had already gone home. TheMarker has learned that a number of ministers endeavored to end the cabinet meeting as early as possible in order to watch the World Cup soccer game broadcast at the time.

Shalom, who was meeting in a nearby room with Efraim Sneh and Dalia Itzik, entered the cabinet room at the appointed hour. Klein returned to his offices at Bank of Israel.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon added the review to the cabinet agenda at the request of ministers concerned with the state of the Israeli economy. The two economic officials were to cover matters such as Bank of Israel's interest rate policy, the treasury's fiscal policy and the ever-deepening recession.

The economic leadership is concerned by the economy, which is not recovering from recession and suffers from rising inflation and unstable currency. Recently updated treasury projections for 2002 include negative growth of 1%, which will amount to 3% drop in per capita growth.