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Israel Central Bank Chief To Step Down In June

By ARON HELLER

JERUSALEM (AP) â¿¿ The governor of Israel's central bank, widely credited with steering the nation's economy safely through years of world financial turmoil, resigned Tuesday.

In a brief statement, the Bank of Israel said governor Stanley Fischer informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will step down on June 30. It gave no explanation for the departure and said he would give a news conference on Wednesday to formally announce the decision.

Fischer, an internationally respected economist, served as deputy director of the International Monetary Fund and held top posts the World Bank and Citigroup Inc. before taking over Israel's central bank in 2005.

His monetary policies and Israel's tight control of its banks are seen responsible for the nation's stability despite the worldwide economic crisis that hit during his reign. Israel's economy continues to grow, and unemployment is roughly 6.5 percent, relatively low in world terms.

His departure comes two years before the end of his second five-year term. Israeli media speculated that his resignation was due to personal reasons, not a disagreement with the government.

In a statement, Netanyahu praised Fischer and thanked him for his service.

"Professor Stanley Fischer played a major role in the economic growth of the state of Israel and in the achievements of the Israeli economy," he said. "His experience, his wisdom and his international connections opened a door to the economies of the world and assisted the Israeli economy in reaching many achievements during a period of global economic crisis."

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called Fischer "an asset not only to the Israeli economy but also to Israel's international image, thanks to his status and connections in the world."

Fischer, 69, was born in North Rhodesia, now Zambia, and educated at the London School of Economics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as the thesis adviser to U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at MIT in the 1970s.

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