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Stanley Fischer, Israel's Central Bank Chief, Applies To Head IMF

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IMF CHIEF ISRAEL

JERUSALEM -- Israel's central bank chief has applied to head the International Monetary Fund, the bank said Saturday, acknowledging that obstacles stand in his way.

Stanley Fischer has headed the Bank of Israel since 2005 and has held top jobs at the World Bank and at Citigroup Corp.

He has been widely credited with enabling the country to largely escape the global economic crisis. Unemployment in Israel is just over 6 percent, and the real estate sector is booming.

Last year, he was appointed to a second five-year term.

"An extraordinary, unexpected and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has arisen, to run for the head of the International Monetary Fund, which I decided I wanted to do after many considerations," Fischer said Saturday.

Despite Fischer's achievements, the position may be a long-shot for the Zambia native. The post has traditionally gone to a European, and French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has emerged as the front-runner.

Beyond that, the Bank of Israel said in a statement Saturday the IMF accepts candidates under 65 years old. Fischer is 67.

Fischer said he was applying knowing it is "a complex process and despite the potential barriers."

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Saturday he supported Fischer's candidacy.

"The position fits Fischer like a glove," he said.

The IMF's last director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, quit last month after he was accused of attempting to rape a New York hotel maid.

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