Michaeli: Search for BoI governor is a farce

Labor MK questions Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to repeatedly ignore Karnit Flug as a viable option.

By
August 28, 2013 17:46
2 minute read.
Labor MK Merav Michaeli.

Merav Michaeli 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Knesset)

The search for a Bank of Israel governor has become a farce, Labor MK Merav Michaeli said in a Knesset debate on the topic on Wednesday.

Michaeli recounted the events of recent months in that arena, peppering the story with sarcastic asides.

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s first two nominees for the position, former governor Jacob Frenkel and Bank Hapoalim chief economist Leo Leiderman, pulled out of the race due to alleged scandals. Now, the Turkel Committee, which approves candidates for high-ranking public positions, is meeting with former Argentine Central Bank president Mario Blejer, former Bank of Israel deputy governor Zvi Eckstein and Bank Mizrahi CEO Victor Medina.

Michaeli focused on Netanyahu’s refusal to nominate Acting Governor Karnit Flug, and reports that Netanyahu said he would choose “anyone but her” for the position. As a result of being snubbed twice, Flug announced that she would resign from the bank after a new governor was chosen.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) has alleged in the past that Netanyahu’s rejection of Flug stems from sexist motives.

“Why is anyone better than her?” Michaeli asked. “What is the advantage of bringing someone from abroad? What kind of message does that send to Israeli economists?”

The Labor MK concluded her speech by saying that “the selection process for one of the most important positions in Israel has become a farce.”

MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) also wondered why Netanyahu began his search for a governor abroad and not in Israel. He joked, in reference to Frenkel and Leiderman’s alleged scandals, that any wife who wanted to investigate whether her husband had any skeletons in his closet should nominate him to head the Bank of Israel.

The Knesset Finance Committee also discussed the lack of a Bank of Israel governor on Wednesday, and the Prime Minister’s Office adviser to the Turkel Committee said a final decision on the matter was delayed because the committee had received complaints about all three candidates.

The Turkel Committee approves appointments to seven positions – IDF chief of staff, chief of police, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head, Mossad head, Prisons Service chief, Bank of Israel governor and deputy Bank of Israel governor. It also makes sure the appointments are not the result of nepotism, business connections, political positions or other factors deemed to be inappropriate.

“The Knesset Finance Committee will look into steps to prevent this saga from happening again,” said committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi). “It cannot be that the State of Israel is going so long without its senior economic adviser.”

Slomiansky suggested that the government appoint a search committee to find an appropriate Bank of Israel governor.


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