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Israel’s Smotrich met with protests in France, vows to continue judicial reform

At the OECD ministerial meeting in Paris, Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich dismissed warnings in the organization's economic report that the judicial overhaul will hurt Israel’s economy.
Anti-Judicial overhaul demonstrators protest against the arrival of Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, outside the OECD headquarters, June 7 2023

PARIS — Attending the OECD ministerial meeting in Paris Wednesday, Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich pledged to continue with the judicial overhaul plan advanced by the Israeli right.

Speaking with Al-Monitor, Smotrich brought up the Economic Outlook 2023 report, which includes economic forecasts for all member countries, expressing pleasure at its findings despite its outlook that Israel’s economy will expand at a more moderate pace this year and in 2024. The report also cited the risk of continued political tensions in Israel around the government’s judicial overhaul plan as one of the reasons for the more moderate expansion pace expected.

Asked for further comment, he played down those concerns. "There is not even one organization in the world saying that the positive judicial reform we are advancing will harm Israel’s economy. There are remarks in different forums regarding the political instability, and especially the lack of responsibility of some of the people objecting to the reform," he said.

These "remarks," Smotrich argued, "all refer to the political instability, which is the outcome of irresponsible people who are ready to harm our social cohesion, our security and our economy. The [current protests] are illegitimate tools to conduct a debate, which in itself is legitimate in a democracy. We have seen no damage to Israel’s economy, which is strong. We are determined to carry out the reform in a responsible and professional manner, much as we did with the budget we passed and with the labor agreements we got signed. All these will generate stability for the Israeli market for many years to come."

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