Yair Lapid to Appoint Yael Andorn Director General of Israel's Finance Ministry

Andorn will become first woman to hold this position in Israel, after she replaces Doron Cohen.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid is set to appoint Yael Andorn as his ministry’s director general, making her the first woman in the post.

Andorn, 42, previously spent 12 years in the ministry’s budget division, including a period from 2004 to 2006 as first deputy director of the division, before managing pension funds for the Histadrut labor federation. She is expected to take up her new position this week, replacing Doron Cohen.

Andorn headed Histadrut’s Amitim Senior Pension Funds, before leaving the post two years ago. The funds were “veteran” pension funds, meaning they were closed to new members in 1995 after the older pension funds ran into financial trouble. The funds under Andorn’s control put her in charge of NIS 160 billion in assets, paying out benefits to some 250,000 pension holders. Since leaving Amitim in July 2011, she joined the El Al Israel Airlines board and last year became a partner in the Plenus high-tech and industrial credit fund.

Her candidacy for director general had support from her former boss at the ministry’s budget division, Uri Yogev, who was also under consideration for the post. He was reportedly not hired at least in part out of concern that he was too closely associated with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As far as is known, prior to their meeting over the director general position, Andorn and Lapid had not met.

Andorn herself is on close terms with Netanyahu, who, during his own term as finance minister from 2003 to 2005, offered her a job as head of the ministry’s wage and labor relations division. During the beginning of his second term as prime minister in 2009, he also offered her a job as director general of the Prime Minister’s Office. She declined both offers.

During some of her prior employment at the Finance Ministry, she had responsibility for policy related to social welfare, education, health, National Insurance Institute policy and immigrant absorption, at a time of drastic government spending cuts that greatly affected these issues. She was considered a leader in efforts to shift Israel’s approach from that of a welfare state to a more free-market perspective.

With Netanyahu as finance minister at the time, major cuts were made in National Insurance support for children and the unemployed. Eligibility criteria for unemployment compensation and supplemental income assistance were changed, support for single mothers was cut, and the health and education budgets were trimmed. At the time, Andorn voiced her unreserved support for the changes before cabinet ministers, Knesset members, social welfare organization and the media.

Cohen had been at the helm of the Finance Ministry’s administration for the past year and a half.

Andorn is regarded as highly professional and enjoys the support of senior officials in the Finance Ministry’s budget division. Her familiarity with the ministry, and government operations in general, are expected to ease her into her new job quickly.

She has a degree in economics and a Master’s in business administration from the Hebrew University. She is married and the mother of two girls. She is pregnant with a third child, which is due shortly. Her husband from a prior marriage, Roy Vermus, was CEO of the Psagot investment firm.

During her childhood, Andorn lived overseas for several years due to her father’s work. When she was 3, her family moved to the Iranian capital, Tehran, for three years. When she was 10, they moved to London for another four years. Andorn has said that adjusting to new places as a child made her realize that Israel was not the center of the world. When her family returned to Israel, she attended high school in Ramat Hasharon, where she met Vermus.

David Bachar