Finance Minister Yair Lapid was in full damage control mode Sunday as the political backlash against his failure to find a suitable candidate for the Bank of Israel governorship reached a crescendo.
Just days after Leo Leiderman, Bank Hapoalim’s chief economist, became the second Bank of Israel candidate in the last ten days to withdraw his nomination under suspicious circumstances, critics and opposition figures began to call into question the finance minister’s judgment and competency.
Labor MK Avishay Braverman, who also serves as chairman of the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee, told Israel Radio that Lapid was better off “spending less time on Facebook and more time focusing on the work of his ministry.”
Braverman said that the process by which high-level officials are chosen in Israel is flawed. The Labor MK told Israel Radio that the government should create a committee that would be tasked with locating and vetting candidates before they are officially nominated.
Leiderman and Jacob Frenkel both withdrew their nominations after questions arose over alleged ethical indiscretions from their past. Braverman told Israel Radio that what is needed is a process to ensure that all senior positions like Bank of Israel governor and IDF chief of staff are filled with individuals that meet criteria for integrity and honesty.
Braverman urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “put his ego aside” and nominate Karnit Flug, the current acting governor who stepped in after Stanley Fischer’s departure, to the post.
Lapid defended himself against accusations that he was negligent in examining the background of his candidates.
“The prime minister and the finance minister don’t have a private investigations firm at their disposal,” Lapid said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony introducing the new Tel Aviv-Ashdod rail line. “Everyone’s talking about a vetting committee that needs to be formed. Will it (the committee) hire a private eye to look into candidates’ past? [Leiderman and Frenkel] are respected people who have amassed decades-long careers in the State of Israel. There are things you just can’t know.”
“We will have a discussion about the nomination of a new governor in a calm manner and without pressures,” he said. “We will find the best governor the State of Israel has to offer.”