Knesset to meet during recess on lack of BoI head

After Labor MK Michaeli submits signatures to call meeting, Knesset plans to convene over lack of governor.

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August 6, 2013 23:29
3 minute read.
Outgoing BoI Governor Stanley Fischer 370

Outgoing BoI Governor Stanley Fischer 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The Knesset will convene during its summer recess to discuss the lack of a Bank of Israel governor, after Labor MK Merav Michaeli submitted the necessary signatures on Tuesday to call a meeting.

“Every day that passes without a [Bank of Israel] governor harms Israel’s economy and makes a mockery of the State of Israel,” reads the request for the meeting, signed by 50 MKs. “Despite this, despite the failed search for a governor, the prime minister was quoted as saying, ‘It will be anyone but her’ – ‘her’ meaning the esteemed Deputy Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug, who was recommended by previous governor Stanley Fischer.”

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The letter also calls for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid to explain their decision to the Knesset.

Last week, two nominees for the Bank of Israel position – Jacob Frenkel and Leo Leiderman – withdrew their candidacy in the face of alleged scandals.

Both have asserted their confidence that they could gain the approval of the Turkel Committee, which is responsible for addressing complaints against the nominees and giving the stamp of approval before they can step into the position. The public ignominy associated with the process, however, proved too unpalatable for both.

Michaeli pointed out that Flug was qualified for the role, and that Netanyahu and Lapid had not given reasons not to appoint her.

“According to media reports, Lapid supported Flug’s appointment [as governor].

Outgoing governor Stanley Fischer recommended her, as did senior economists, experts and commentators. Only the prime minister, for reasons he is keeping to himself, says, ‘Just not her,’ and is continuing in his ridiculous effort to ‘pick up’ a new governor in Israel or abroad,” the Labor MK explained.

Michaeli wondered if Lapid had changed his mind in light of Netanyahu’s opinion, and if he had found problems with her that Fischer had missed.

“The State of Israel and Bank of Israel are not the prime minister or finance minister’s private business,” she added.

“The public deserves to know what Lapid’s considerations were in agreeing to the scandalous lack of a governor, and Netanyahu’s determined declaration of ‘anyone but her.’” On Sunday and Monday, reports surfaced that Netanyahu was planning to nominate multiple candidates for the position, to be vetted in advance by the Turkel Committee, in order to give himself more leeway in picking a final nominee.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment, while a spokesman for Lapid would only say that the two were working in full cooperation.

Meanwhile, the media continued to speculate on who might fill the position, which Flug has held temporarily since Fischer stepped down in June.

Flug, having been snubbed twice for the post, is considered an unlikely candidate at this point, while National Economic Council chairman Eugene Kandel and former Committee for Socioeconomic Change chairman Manuel Trajtenberg are said to be favorites. Bank of Israel Monetary Committee member Rafi Melnick’s name has been floated in the media, as has former justice minister Yaakov Neeman’s.

Last week, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) raised the specter of sexism in Netanyahu and Lapid’s decision to pass over Flug.

“Chauvinism? Arrogance? Lack of interest? Simply a puzzling form of decision-making?” Yacimovich wrote on her Facebook page. “They want to create some new star? Studies that were too objective when she was an outstanding head of the research division at the Bank of Israel? Maybe all the answers are correct.”

Niv Elis contributed to this report.


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