'Israel's Judicial reform likely to stunt economic growth,' Finance Ministry warns

In a document unintended for public consumption, senior ministry staff caution about dire economic projections should the judicial reform come to pass, triggering a staggering loss of $75 billion over five years; 'The mood is very somber here,' says one
Gad Lior|
"Compromising Israel's democratic parameters could bring about a downgrade in credit rating and thus a drop of 0.8% in GDP, which means a loss of $74 billion over five years following the passage of the judicial reform," Finance Ministry officials wrote in a document presented in a special nightly meeting of the finance ministry.
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  • The document says this kind of financial damage is somewhat likely. "At the moment, it seems the changes proposed in the judicial reform are perceived internationally as able to weaken major Israeli institutions, whose fortitude constitute a major factor for calculating national credit ratings.
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    ישיבת סיעה התיונות הדתית
    ישיבת סיעה התיונות הדתית
    Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich
    (Photo: AFP)
    According to estimations, the national debt could grow substantially should the reform come to pass, as tax revenue is expected to decrease.
    The document, which officials claimed was a tempered presentation of their concerns, was not meant to be made public and was in violation of strict instructions to refrain from revealing internal discussions. "The mood is very somber here," one official said.
    "The Israeli economy is strong and the data presented indicate continued growth," the ministry quoted Finance Minister Bezelel Smotrich in an official statement. "My position about the reform is well known and I believe it contains great opportunities for our economy because it will lessen bureaucracy and regulations, resulting in growth in the Israeli market."
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    ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בפתח ישיבת הממשלה
    ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בפתח ישיבת הממשלה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Mark Israel Salem)
    It is worth noting that the Israeli Business Forum sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking to "immediately suspend legislation, chief of which is the change to the committee for the selection of judges. This will severely impact the Israeli judiciary and will undermine the separation of powers which is paramount for the vitality of any democracy. Additionally, this forum rejects any and all threats made against the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the IDF, Shin Bet and Israeli Police."
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