Text size

"My goal on my trip to Washington is to tell the world's finance ministers that Israel's economy is taking off, and that it's worthwhile for them to do business with us," Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with Haaretz this week, ahead of the International Monetary Fund's annual meeting that opens in the U.S. capital on Sunday.

"Everything we are doing now has already been done over the past 20 years in other countries that have surged forward, from New Zealand to Chile," he continued. "In the past, Israel was a `bad' country for business - the Histadrut, taxes, welfare - and things cannot go on this way. On the other hand, we have the advantage of being a technological country; and if we combine this with a pro-business climate, our economy will also surge forward. That is the message I want to convey in Washington: Look at us, see the changes.

"I speak with businessmen who tell me that the only reason they come to Israel to invest and do business is because they understand that the economy is changing," he continued. "Who could come to a country of high taxes, insane bureaucracy and bloated unions?"

The last strike proved that the Histadrut has great power to shut the economy down whenever it pleases.

"This has to be changed by law. Otherwise, this isn't a state... A group of gangsters and hypocrites is oppressing workers everywhere, preventing a recovery program that would save the workers, shutting down the economy and sending factories fleeing, and causing the most strikes in the world, while the entire world is streamlining and competing, and there's a free flow of products and goods. We can't continue this way."