Fischer Agrees to Second Term as Bank of Israel Governor

Stanley Fischer yesterday accepted a second term as governor of the Bank of Israel. "It is an honor and a privilege for me to stand here, as an Israeli citizen, and to accept with great gladness the invitation of the prime minister and the finance minister to stand at the head of one of Israel's most important institutions, for a second term," Fischer said in an emotional address at a press conference yesterday.

He declined, however, to refute speculation that he will not remain for the whole 5-year term.

Fischer's first term as governor of the Bank of Israel officially ends on April 30. He had made acceptance of a second stint contingent on the Knesset approving the new Bank of Israel Law. It did so on Tuesday, by a large majority. Now it's up to the cabinet to formally approve the second term. That is not expected to be a problem.

When he first accepted the job, in 2005, Fischer noted, Benjamin Netanyahu was finance minister. "I could not have imagined what was to happen during the term," he said. "It has been a challenging time. I could not have imagined that we would have to contend with the worst financial crisis since the 1930s."

Netanyahu quipped that he had recommended to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz that Fischer be nominated for a second term, and Steinitz had made the same recommendation to him. "We shook hands simultaneously," the prime minister said.

Indeed, there has been practically wall to wall consensus that Fischer provided critical economic leadership in the crisis, and that it would be good for Israel if he were to stay on.