Moshe Leon May Be Named Finance Minister

If if turns out to be impossible to appoint Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman as Finance Minister due to the criminal investigations against him, Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu will appoint CPA Moshe Leon, a number of politicians have told TheMarker.

Leon served as Netanyahu's economic adviser and his director general at the Prime Minister's Office.

The sources say Netanyahu and Lieberman agreed even before the elections that Yisrael Beiteinu would get the finance portfolio, and Leon is connected to Lieberman, who as transportation minister appointed Leon the chairman of Israel Railways.

Leon, like his political patron, has been vacationing overseas while the political storms rage here. He is expected to return to Israel today from the United States and to comment publicly on his possible appointment. But Leon has not yet received any official offer; such a proposal will have to wait until the political situation clears somewhat.

Leon also served as Likud's accountant in the 1990s, when Lieberman served as the party's director general and Netanyahu was party chairman.

"Whoever takes the finance ministry in the new government needs to be a Shi'ite suicide [bomber]," said Yisrael Beiteinu MK Stas Misezhnikov, the former chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee.

"This year, in light of the global recession, we are all wary of taking the portfolio. Nevertheless, the person who can pull us out of the mud is Avigdor Lieberman as finance minister," added Misezhnikov, who is also the head of Yisrael Beiteinu's negotiating team for the coalition talks.

Misezhnikov said his party would receive one of the three senior portfolios in any government: foreign affairs, defense or finance. He said the party preferred the Foreign Ministry. Misezhnikov added that in any case, Lieberman is the best-qualified candidate for finance minister.