Andorn Steps Down as Top Israel Finance Ministry Official

Move comes ahead of expected appointment of Moshe Kahlon as finance minister.

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Finance Ministry Director General Yael Andorn.
Finance Ministry Director General Yael Andorn.Credit: David Bachar

Yael Andorn said Monday she was stepping down as treasury director general after less than two years, in a move that was expected now that the finance portfolio is likely to go to Kulanu party chief Moshe Kahlon.

Andorn was expected to leave after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Lapid and called elections, which meant someone else would be finance minister and appoint his or her own director general.

Kahlon is likely to name Shai Babad, a close associate whose No. 11 spot on the Kulanu list deprived him of a seat in the Knesset. He resigned four months ago as director of the Second Television Authority and before that was general manager of Israeli operations at ZIm Integrated Shipping Services.

At the Bat Yam Conference for Social Justice last week, Babad he said he would bring outside experts to guide treasury officials on policy. “When Kahlon becomes finance minister, we will bring to the Finance Ministry knowledgable people to work side by side with officials,” he said.

Andorn, 44, was the first women to hold the post, the second most powerful figure in the ministry, and one of a clutch of women who have won top jobs in economic policy-making in recent years, including Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug and Dorit Selinger, the treasury’s head of insurance, capitals markets and long-term savings.

Andorn was pregnant when she came on as director general in April 2013 at the behest of Yair Lapid, who had just taken over as finance minister. It was regarded as a professional, not political appointment. She had served as a top official in the budget division and then headed the Amitim pension fund.

Her two years as director general under Lapid were difficult, putting her at the center of chronic tensions between the minister and the treasury brass. Andorn often found herself defending decisions Lapid took, most notably the plan to exempt many home buyers from the value-added tax, even though they were opposed by treasury officials.

Netanyahu valued her work when he was finance minister in 2003-2005, naming her to top jobs and inviting her when he became prime minister in 2009 to head his office. She turned him down. But when Netanyahu took over as finance minister after Lapid was forced out, relations between the two cooled.

Nevertheless, Andorn was instrumental in enabling Lapid to win cabinet and Knesset approval for the 2013-14 budgets, which included unpopular spending cuts and tax hikes. She headed committee recommending changes for debt bailouts in the corporate sector and reforms in the Law for Encouraging Capital Investment.

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