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Israel Lawmakers Want Relook at Flug for Bank Governor

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Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Karnit Flug
Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Karnit Flug, seen in this handout photo taken on Oct. 11, 2011, said in an interview in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth this month that she may have been disqualified for the governor's role because she is a woman. Photographer: Sason Tiram/Bank of Israel via Bloomberg

Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Members of Israel’s parliamentary finance committee have asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tap twice-snubbed Karnit Flug to succeed Stanley Fischer as Bank of Israel governor, a lawmaker said.

“More than a year ago Fischer singled out Flug as his deputy, which really meant she was intended to be the next governor,” said panel member and opposition Labor Party lawmaker Erel Margalit.

“If Netanyahu didn’t want that, I would have expected a search committee in place much earlier, putting qualified candidates on the table,” Margalit said today.

The government has yet to name a central bank chief to replace Fischer, who left at the end of June after eight years at its helm. Two nominees withdrew during the government vetting process, and three others are currently under consideration.

Margalit said “a significant number” of finance committee members signed a letter to Netanyahu asking him to pick Flug.

“Karnit is at the bank, she is qualified, she was recommended by Fischer, who everybody has high regard for, and she doesn’t seem to be political in any way,” said Margalit. “Our recommendation was that she should be seriously considered again.”

Chances of Netanyahu appointing Flug at this point appear “relatively low,” said Alex Zabezhinsky, chief economist at Tel Aviv-based Meitav DS Investment House Ltd.

Prospects Dim

“It’s hard to picture this happening, unless all three of the candidates that Netanyahu has put forward are rejected by the vetting committee,” Zabezhinsky said. A more likely scenario is that the committee will complete its work within a week or two, and Netanyahu will name one of the three current contenders as governor, he said.

All five candidates who have appeared before the vetting panel have been men. Flug said in an interview in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth this month that she may have been disqualified because she is a woman. She announced after being passed over the second time that she would leave the bank after the next governor takes office.

An official in the prime minister’s office declined to comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem at gackerman@bloomberg.net; Alisa Odenheimer in Jerusalem at aodenheimer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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