Israel’s director of budget at finance ministry resigns

Israel’s director of budget at the Finance Ministry resigned on Sunday, claiming intervention by the political echelon, mainly Finance Minister Israel Katz, in professional decisions.

In his resignation letter to the minister, Shaul Meridor wrote that “the ability to perform my duties has become impossible. Unfortunately, you do not allow me and others to formulate policy measures that will enable the Israeli economy to get through the severe coronavirus crisis.”

He added that “decision-making is influenced these days by narrow, irrelevant, short-term interests, alongside the silencing of the professional echelon, blatant disregard for professional staff work, top-of-the-head decisions and trampling on budgetary tools and rules.”

“I cannot lend a hand to this bad conduct, for which all Israeli citizens will pay a heavy price in the coming years,” he said.

Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin said following the resignation that “this difficult step and its implications are of great concern. Meridor is a first-class professional, and one of the most dedicated civil servants.”

Rivlin added that “these days, more than ever, Israel needs a professional, strong public bureaucracy, that works together with the elected echelon to rescue the country from the serious crisis.”

In July, Meridor expressed criticism at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan of granting direct payments for all Israelis.

In response, Netanyahu said in a Facebook post that “economic policy is decided by the government – not the officials.”