Ministry of Finance director general Keren Terner has quit. An announcement by Minister of Finance Israel Katz's spokesperson said that Terner was leaving by "mutual agreement" following "a personal request." Katz has appointed Israel Tax Authority head Eran Yaacov to replace her temporarily until a new appointment can be made.
Katz said, "Keren's work was exceptional and has greatly contributed to the public sector and Israel's citizens. I thank her on behalf of myself and in the name of the Israeli government for years of joint work in the Ministries of Transport and Finance that has led to many achievements and influenced all of Israel. I wish Keren great success for the future."
Terner thanked Katz for their work together and said, "I am convinced that together with the ministry's dedicated professional team, he will lead a wide ranging economic plan for handling the economic crisis in the wake of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. I want to thank minister Katz for his confidence in me and the great privilege of working with him over the years in various positions and serving the people of the country for many years of endeavor in the public sector."
Terner served as director general of the Ministry of Transport under Katz and he appointed her to head the ministry of finance in May a short while after he moved to the treasury. However, since then there have been a series of disputes between Katz and Terner. She was considered very close to the former head of the budget division Shaul Meridor who quit at the end of August amid ugly recriminations between him and Katz. Over the past few months there have been several confrontations between Katz and Terner and the expectation was that she would not remain much longer in the job.
Katz reprimanded Terner after she tweeted support for Meridor before he quit. Katz has also put Terner down in many meetings when other top Ministry of Financial officials were present. She once invited Minister of Finance legal advisor Assi Messing to a meeting and Katz told her that as far as he was concerned the two of them could go and sit in another room.
Last Friday, Katz announced the appointment of Yaheli Rotenberg as Accountant General and the belief is that this appointment and that of a new budget division director hastened her departure.
Sources who were in contact with Terner over the past few days told "Globes" that her decision to leave was the end of a long process and not the result of this or that action by the Minister of Finance. One source said, "If it was only up to Katz then Terner could stay. The problem is much broader than this or that comment. It is the professional relations with the prime minister, the chairman of the national economic council, the paralysis and non-passing of a budget, the paralysis in the professional echelon and general conduct of the government."
The situation in the day-to-day management of the Ministry of Finance is said to be extremely tense with Katz tending not to follow the advice of his senior officials, for example, on the NIS 750 grant that was given to all Israelis. The absence of a budget and in particular the lack of a political plan to get a budget passed all made it difficult for her to do her work.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 11, 2020
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