‘Tsunami of Lies’: Netanyahu Rejects Economists Warnings About Impact of Judicial Overhaul

Israel’s prime minister called the warnings issued by Bank of Israel governor and prominent economists a ‘tsunami of lies’ and said the economy is suffering from over regulation and judicial interference

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Benjamin Netanyahu speaking a press conference on Wednesday night
Benjamin Netanyahu speaking a press conference on Wednesday nightCredit: Jonathan Zindler/ Flash 90
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected on Wednesday night recent warnings of the negative economic impact of his government’s attempt to overhaul the justice system.

In a press conference in the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu said that “judicial interference in Israel is like a break on the wheels of the Israeli economy.” He rejected the warning of Israel’s Central Bank Governor Amir Yaron, who cautioned against the government’s attempt to weaken the justice system and said “there is no reason to alarm the public,” and that the warnings are a “tsunami of lies about the so-called collapse of the economy, that has no factual basis.”

Netanyahu spoke during the press conference alongside Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Economy Minister Nir Barkat, and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

“We are committed to the independence of the judiciary,” Netanyahu declared. “No one is going to damage property rights or undermine existing arrangements which are the bedrock of our system and critical to ensure investor confidence in the long-term.”

He said that “when the judicial reforms are implemented - and they will be implemented, through dialogue, in consultation - I can guarantee everyone will see that the rule of law remains intact and even stronger, that democracy is still intact and even stronger, that our free market is still intact and even stronger, that property rights and safeguards for existing arrangements will be even stronger.”

Netanyahu met with Israel’s Central Bank governor on Tuesday, who warned him about the possible negative economic impact of the plan to weaken the justice system, including lowering Israel’s credit rating. Governor Yaron gave Netanyahu details about the numerous messages and forecasts he received from leading international economists and credit rating agencies in the last few weeks.

Governor of Israel's Central Bank Amir Yaron

Yaron’s warnings join other explicit forecasts made by heads of credit rating agencies regarding the implications of Netanyahu’s and Justice Minister Levin’s plans. S&P executives said recently that the proposed changes could lead to a downgrade of Israel’s credit rating. Yaron’s predecessors, Karnit Flug and Jacob Frenkel, warned recently that the reforms would damage Israel’s economic reputation and make is less attractive for investors.

Netanyahu dismissed the warnings on Monday. “Well meaning people from the business community, even former senior executives and governors, are being swept up in the spin. It is totally absurd,” he claimed and emphasized the high demand for government issued bonds and the strong Israeli shekel.

Yair Lapid, Israel’s opposition leader said on Wednesday night that “Netanyahu’s hysterical and sweaty press conference leaves no room for doubt. Bibi is weak and knows he is leading Israel’s economy to ruin. Israeli citizens will be the ones who pay the heavy price.”

Benny Gantz, leader of the National Unity Party responded to Netanyahu by saying: “He dismisses the protestors, he threatens the attorney general and disregards the Central Bank governor — but the reason to reject and stop the judicial overhaul is not just a downgrade of the credit rating or to protect IDF commanders from prosecution abroad — but first and foremost because the reforms threaten the fundamental values the State of Israel was founded upon.

Netanyahu, history will not forgive you for the wrecking ball you are driving through our system of government and the rift you are causing in the nation. It is not too late to stop.”

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