A day after nominating Karnit Flug to be the Bank of Israel’s first female governor, Finance Minister Yair Lapid appointed a task force Monday to examine gender issues in the state budget.
“A gender analysis in the process of preparing the state budget will be an important method of advancing the standing of women in Israeli society and reducing gender inequality in society,” Lapid said. A report by the Harvard Business Review in April ranked Israel 27th in measures of women’s economic success.
The committee – established following the initiative of the Knesset Committee on the status of Women chairwoman MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) – will examine the way resources in the budget are allocated and how they affect men and women differently.
As an example, the Finance Ministry offered that women generally earn lower incomes and constitute a majority of recipients for income aid and nursing home benefits. Additional issues that may have different implications for men and women include taxes, health benefits, welfare and public transportation.
The task force is to update the Knesset committee on its progress on March 1 and give its recommendations by May 1.
Following the bizarre and drawn out appointment of Flug as the new Bank of Israel Governor, there has been some outspoken criticism of the process from none other than Lapid.
Flug has been acting chief since Stanley Fischer stepped down in June, and, despite being Fischer's preferred choice, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Lapid struggled through two failed attempts to fill the post before tapping her for the role.
Perhaps addressing his reluctance to support Flug for the important financial role, Lapid cryptically told Army Radio that "surely this is the decision of a compromise, but it is not a non-compromise. It is impossible to refer to a person such as Karnit as a 'compromise'."
Lapid told Israel Radio in a separate interview on Monday morning that the process was "horrible and wrong."
Lapid and Netanyahu's initial choice for the position, Professor Yaakov Frenkel, had his own opinion on the length of time it took to officially appoint Flug in an interview with Army Radio on Monday.
"This process was certainly a process from which someone learned a lesson from it - something that was clear and not very positive in my opinion," Frenkel said.
However Frenkel, who turned down the position himself, tabbed Flug for great success in her new role saying, "she (Flug) will be a successful Governor, and before my name was thrown around as a possible candidate for the job, her's was the name I suggested to the Prime Minister."
Yesterday, several high ranking female Knesset members expressed their own consternation at Lapid and Netanyahu for taking so long to make the decision.
"The fact it took Netanyahu and Lapid 112 days to appoint the acting Bank of Israel governor, whose appointment was obvious to begin with, points above all to a very concerning leadership failure," Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On said.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich of Labor offered a more tempered criticism saying, "even if the process was faulty and at times ridiculous, Netanyahu needed courage to backtrack from his mistake and correct it, and in the end made the best decision."
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