Gantz Refuses to Appoint Israel Aerospace Industries Board’s Choice as CEO

Gantz hopes to elect his former coalition partner Amir Peretz as the head of the board, who would in turn approve an air force officer who served with him in the IDF as the CEO of Israel's largest defense industry firm

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Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Tel Aviv, in March.
Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Tel Aviv, in March.Credit: JACK GUEZ / AFP
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is refusing to approve the appointment of Boaz Levy as CEO of major defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries, though the board of the state-owned company elected him to the post a year ago.

The defense minister hopes to appoint former cabinet minister Amir Peretz to head IAI’s board, and in turn elect a former Israel Air Force officer as IAI’s CEO.

Acting CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, Boaz Levy.Credit: Esther Rosen / Israel Aerospace Industries

In November, the board’s search committee, headed by board chairman Harel Locker, selected Levy as its candidate for CEO. Levy, who has been with the company for more than 30 years, has been involved in IAI's development of anti-missile systems, including the Arrow system, and has garnered praise and awards for his work. Most recently, he was executive vice president of the company’s systems, missiles and space group, which employs 3,700 people.

The appointment of the CEO of Israel’s largest defense industry firm requires the approval of the defense minister – but not only has Gantz withheld his approval, he has also refused to discuss the issue by avoiding meeting with Levy at the Defense Ministry. He has also not visited IAI over the past year.

Sources who have asked not to be named told Haaretz that Gantz wants to have a former senior air force officer, apparently Maj. Gen. (res.) Haggai Topolansky, who served with him in the military, appointed as CEO. Topolansky had been a candidate for the position but withdrew his name in November, claiming that the selection process was not being conducted properly and that members of the committee were steering the process to their favor. Defense Ministry director general Amir Eshel is also urging Gantz to appoint a former senior Israel Air Force officer to the position.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and former cabinet minister Amir Peretz in the Knesset together, in Jerusalem, in May. Credit: Adina Wellman / Knesset spokesperson

At this point, the appointment of former defense minister Amir Peretz as board chairman of IAI is being held up at the Government Companies Authority due to Peretz’s lack of business experience and insufficient background in the company. He is nevertheless expected to be approved in the coming weeks. Locker formally ended his tenure as chairman in August but has remained on temporarily. Levy is serving as acting CEO until his post is approved or someone else is appointment in his stead.

Gantz’s bureau stated in response that the appointment was under review.

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