Michal Abadi-Boiangiu, the Finance Ministry accountant general, is the leading candidate to take over as director general of the Prime Minister’s Office after Harel Locker said in a surprise announcement Wednesday that he was stepping down after three years on the job. It was awkward timing for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in the midst of a coalition crisis that may lead to the collapse of the government. Locker had served as Netanyahu’s point man on economic and social issues.
No official details concerning Locker’s exit were available on Wednesday, but sources speculated it was due to his disappointment over efforts to undo the reforms contained in the Economic Arrangements Law, or perhaps a decision to jump the sinking coalition ship. Others suggested it was due to growing strains in the relationship between Locker and Netanyahu.
In any case, Netanyahu was occupied with security issues on Wednesday after the previous day’s synagogue killings, and did not devote any time to weighing candidates to replace Locker.
Abadi-Boiangiu has long been valued by Netanyahu, who appointed her chair of the government bank holding company MI Holding in 2003, when he was finance minister and she was a deputy director general in the Health Ministry. He has praised her work at meetings of the security cabinet, where she often participates in meetings.
Abadi-Boiangiu has been treasury accountant general since 2011 when she was appointed by then-Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. Netanyahu asked her to consider the post of Bank of Israel governor after Stanley Fischer announced he was stepping down, but she turned him down.
Other candidates believed to be under consideration for PMO director general are Avis Israel CEO Yoav Horowitz, who is considered close to the prime minister; Guy Rotkopf, until recently director general of the Justice Ministry; and economist Shlomo Maoz.
Unlike many of his predecessors in the post, Locker kept a low media profile. But he was a powerful figure in the Prime Minister’s Office, overseeing economic and social issues and heading a long list of inter-ministerial committees, among them panels on reform of food imports, exploring ways to crack down on the black economy, and bringing more Haredim into the public sector. He also played a role in privatizing Israel Military Industries and in rescuing Channel 10 television from being closed.