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Finance minister on director who quit: I hired her twice despite maternity leave

Finance Minister Israel Katz, in an interview with the Ynet news site, issues scathing criticism of his former director-general of the ministry, claiming she was “irrelevant” in the treasury and implying she should be grateful for being hired while raising a family.

Former Finance Ministry director-general Keren Terner Eyal resigned in October amid disagreements over the handling of the economic aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. In comments this week, she said “red lines” were crossed at the ministry, “and things we never thought would happen, happened.”

A former director-general of the Transportation Ministry — which was headed by Katz in the previous government — Terner Eyal was appointed director-general of the Finance Ministry when Katz took over in May. But the relationship between the two quickly soured.

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

Katz says: “It’s very unfortunate that after everything Terner Eyal received — those opportunities, which matched her capabilities — from me as transportation minister, she should come now and join that chorus of [condemnation]. Her loss is greater than mine.”

Katz says he sought to mentor her through the position after her stint at the helm of the Transportation Ministry, “but it emerged that in the Finance Ministry, this reality was impossible. It’s a highly intensive position, and because of my need to make decisions as minister, who is involved in the smallest of details, I would say she became irrelevant. Sometimes it created some embarrassment in the discussions.”

Finance Minister Israel Katz holds a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on July 1, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

“I gave her opportunities from a young age because I believed that it’s appropriate to advance those who have talents, and she is also a woman. Twice I took her on for roles while she was on maternity leave. You must understand that this is my worldview — I cannot accept that raising a family will delay women from having a senior career,” he says.

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