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Tel Aviv Stock Exchange chief warns of a looming Israeli financial crisis

Ben-Zeev calls on Netanyahu and Smotrich to talk to credit agencies and 'do what is necessary to prevent a downgrade'

View of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Nov. 29, 2020. (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Ittai Ben-Zeev, chief executive officer of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, warned of a looming Israeli financial crisis amid the ongoing judicial overhaul crisis.

He urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich to intervene and change direction while there was still time to avert the crisis. 

“Talk to Moody’s and other international credit rating companies and do what is necessary to prevent a downgrade that would be destructive to everything that has been built here with great effort and talent for many years,” Ben-Zeev stated. “No plan to strengthen the Israeli economy will help if the rating goes down,” he added. 

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO stressed the need for urgent action from the Israeli government to prevent a downgrade of the nation's economy by credit-rating agencies, and a financial meltdown. 

“If there is no change soon, unfortunately, we will get there with all that it implies.”

The global credit rating agency Moody’s recently warned investors against investing in Israel after Knesset passed the contentious Reasonableness Standard Bill that critics argue undermines an independent judiciary. "We anticipate negative consequences for Israel's economy and security,” warned the agency. 

In April, Moody’s downgraded the Jewish state’s economic outlook from positive to stable, citing “deterioration of Israel’s governance.”

Critics in Israel and abroad have warned that the Netanyahu government’s judicial overhaul plan risks undermining an independent judiciary, which is considered a crucial aspect of an attractive investment market.

Since investors tend to minimize risks by avoiding uncertainty, there is the fear that many investors would think twice before placing more investments in Israel, as long as the current political crisis remains unpredictable. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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