Cabinet confirms Keren Terner Eyal to head treasury through economic crisis
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Cabinet confirms Keren Terner Eyal to head treasury through economic crisis

Ex-Transportation Ministry head, 41, returns from maternity leave to take reins of Finance Ministry; ministers approve slate of new top executives of government ministries

Keren Terner Eyal, then-director-general of the Transportation Ministry, attends a hearing at the Knesset, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Keren Terner Eyal, then-director-general of the Transportation Ministry, attends a hearing at the Knesset, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The cabinet approved the appointment Sunday of Keren Terner Eyal as the country’s new chief financial planner.

Terner Eyal, 41, became only the second woman ever appointed director general of the Finance Ministry, taking on the management of the country’s finances amid a steep economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

She returns to where she began her public service career as a young economist on the Finance Ministry’s budget planning staff, where she worked on transportation planning. She replaces the outgoing Shai Babad, who served five years in the post.

Terner Eyal, who served as the director general of the Transportation Ministry until last month, made headlines when then-incoming transportation minister Miri Regev informed her while she was still on maternity leave that she would be removed from the post immediately.

Responding to criticism of the move, Regev said it was common practice for new ministers to show the ministries’ directors the door, and urged the “bleeding hearts” complaining about it to “calm down.”

Finance Ministry Director General Keren Terner Eyal. (Courtesy Finance Ministry)

Terner Eyal began her career at the treasury, but soon transferred to the Transportation Ministry, where she climbed the ranks and was appointed director general in 2016 — the first woman to serve in the role.

She gave birth to her third child two months ago, but returned to work early from maternity leave to take on the Finance Ministry post.

Finance Minister Israel Katz praised Terner Eyal’s “enormous experience and professional capabilities,” and noted she would be taking on the job of managing the government’s finances “in the middle of one of the most challenging periods ever for the Israeli economy.”

In 2013, then-finance minister Yair Lapid appointed Yael Andorn as the first female Finance Ministry director general. Andorn, who was previously deputy director of the ministry’s budget department, was eight months pregnant at the time.

The cabinet approved several other new top executives for government ministries Sunday.

Communications Ministry Director General Liran Avisar Ben-Horin (Courtesy)

Liran Avisar Ben-Horin was appointed director general of the Communications Ministry, replacing outgoing head Nati Cohen.

Avisar Ben-Horin, 43, is the former head of Masa, the Jewish Agency-affiliated company that funds semester- and year-long Israel programs for Diaspora youth. She has served in senior positions in the Prime Minister’s Office, as chief of staff to former director general Harel Locker, and as a legal aide to then-attorney general Menachem Mazuz.

She was affiliated with the Telem party, the former political home of new communications minister Yoaz Hendel. Her husband Itai Ben-Horin is a communications adviser who helped lead the Blue and White election campaign for the April 2019 election.

The cabinet also approved the appointment of Prof. Chezy Levy, the outgoing director of Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, as the new Health Ministry director general.

Newly installed Health Minister Yuli Edelstein thanked the ministers for approving his chosen candidate, saying Levy “has much experience in the health system — in the Israel Defense Forces, at the hospital and at the Health Ministry.”

Prof. Chezy Levy (Health Ministry)

Levy, 64, is a retired brigadier general in the IDF, where he served as chief medical officer until 2007. A veteran of the First Lebanon War, he headed or participated in IDF humanitarian missions to Kosovo, Zaire, Kenya, Macedonia, Turkey and Rwanda.

He went on to serve as a senior official in the Health Ministry before becoming Barzilai’s director, during which time he was responsible for the development and construction of the hospital’s bombproof underground emergency room and surgical wards.

The cabinet also approved the appointment of Yair Pines as head of the Housing and Construction Ministry.

The appointment continues Housing and Construction Minister Yaakov Litzman’s tradition of appointing Finance Ministry veterans to top roles in government. Litzman appointed former treasury planner Moshe Bar Siman-Tov as the first non-MD head of the Health Ministry in 2015.

Pines led planning teams on social spending at the ministry, and was the coordinator for real estate and land use planning in the ministry, as well as the develop budget for the Israel Lands Authority.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz lead a weekly cabinet meeting, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on June 7, 2020. (Marc Israel Sellem)

Pines brings “a great deal of practical and professional experience from the Finance Ministry and the Israel Lands Authority, together with creative business planning” to the role, Litzman said in a statement.

Hagai Reznick, 42, was appointed head of the new Ministry for Community Empowerment and Advancement. Reznick is a former director general of the Housing Ministry.

David Yahalomi, chief of staff for former social equality minister Gila Gamliel, was appointed the new director general of the Environmental Protection Ministry following Gamliel’s appointment as minister.

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