Finance Ministry D-G Keren Turner-Eyal resigns

Exodus in the Finance Ministry continues.

Finance Minister Israel Katz at a meeting of the Finance Committee, July 20, 2020 (photo credit: ADINA WALLMAN/KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN)
Finance Minister Israel Katz at a meeting of the Finance Committee, July 20, 2020
Keren Turner-Eyal, the director-general of Israel’s Finance Ministry on Sunday said she was leaving her position. This is the latest resignation among top economic officials as the country struggles with a recession caused by the novel coronavirus crisis.
Turner-Eyal was appointed to the post in May by Finance Minister Israel Katz. However, the two have disagreed about the best way to support the economy in the face of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
Despite that the ministry gave no reason for Turner-Eyal’s departure, a source close to Turner-Eyal told the news program N12 that she complained that “the decisions the finance ministry are not made in a proper way. There are no professional and thorough discussions. There are only decisions coming from high-up – the Prime Minister’s Office.”
At her departure, Katz thanked Turner-Eyal for her “years of mutual work [with him] in the ministries of Transportation and Finance, which led to many achievements that influenced every home in Israel.”
She thanked Minister Katz for placing his trust in her and said that she is sure “he will lead a broad economic plan to handle the financial crisis following the  COVID-19 outbreak."
The impression given in the broadcast was that Katz himself is forced to work in a difficult set of circumstances and that his reported alleged behavior towards officials who question policy – through threats and raising his voice – should be viewed in that context.
Turner-Eyal’s resignation follows the departure in May of the ministry’s budget chief Shaul Meridor in August.
Meridor said then that he was quitting because he believed the government was grossly mishandling the fallout from the coronavirus crisis by making “short-sighted” decisions and ignoring economic norms. He also blamed Katz for “cultivating an atmosphere of terror” in the ministry.
A month earlier, former accountant-general Rony Hizkiyahu stepped down.
Unlike her two predecessors, Turner-Eyal was a personal appointment made by Katz when he brought her with him to the ministry, and her departure may indicate that even those who supported the minister all the way can do so no longer.
In July, Turner-Eyal warned that imposing a second lockdown on Israel would prevent the economy from recovering. According to KAN, the state broadcaster, she often clashed on policy with Katz.
Turner was appointed to her position after she was terminated by then newly-appointed Transportation Minister Miri Regev (Likud) while on maternity leave, making headlines and sparking controversy among feminist NGOs.
Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah offered sarcastic congratulations to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Katz for “killing all the top branch of the Finance Ministry” when he said that “there is no budget, the economy is collapsing and the talented d-g [that] Katz [himself] appointed says: ‘No more’ after only 4 months on the job.”
Shelah jabbed Netanyahu, who claimed world leaders call him to learn how to handle COVID-19, when he said that “from across the world they call [Israel] to learn how to do such things.”
Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman said that “the Finance Ministry is falling apart during the greatest financial crisis this country has known, there is no budget, there is no real aid. There is no plan on how to exit this situation.”
“It is not a coincidence,” she added, “that skilled professionals are running away from the ministry when Katz and Netanyahu are placing their own personal and political interests ahead of the well-being of citizens.”
Her fellow party MK Ofer Cassif said that “when even the top brass at the Finance Ministry are placing their keys on the table, I think nobody outside the government is left who can believe [that] it acts in the public interest.”
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz called the policy Katz and Netanyahu lead “a deafening failure” and argued they are killing the economy by closing the entire country “due to politics.”
Reuters contributed to this report.