JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel joined the "elite club" of international economies this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, following the Jewish state's acceptance to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“This is recognition of the vibrancy of Israel’s economy,” prime minister spokesman Mark Regev told CBN News.
“It’s an international vote of confidence in Israel’s platform under which Israel can continue to advance and increase the standard of living of every Israeli citizen,” Regev said.
Israel has been working toward this goal for more than 15 years.
“This is a momentous occasion and good news for Israel’s economy,” a beaming prime minister told reporters. “Israel has joined the elite club of world economies, the OECD,” he said.
Intense lobbying right up to the last minute by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to block Israel’s membership did not convince even one nation to boycott the Jewish state, with all 31 members voting to accept Israel, along with Estonia and Slovenia, as the OECD’s newest members.
“The very fact that the well-connected Fayyad, a former International Monetary Fund economist, failed to sabotage the move is a success for Israel and hardheaded reason,” a Jerusalem Post editorial pointed out.
“In contrast, negative misrepresentations of the ‘Zionist entity’ as a repressive, racist, apartheid state belong to the fairyland world of hateful propaganda and a well-developed Palestinian victimization complex,” the Post stated.
Netanyahu said membership in the OECD has three main advantages. The first he described as a “degree,” tantamount to a “stamp of approval” in the world of international economics.
“The second advantage is that it sets standards we are expected to implement here. The OECD has standards. Not everyone meets all the standards, but the members try to meet most of them,” he said.
“The third advantage is that it opens new horizons for investments, which were previously closed to us,” he said.
During his tenure as finance minister in the Sharon government, Netanyahu played a key role in reviving the nation’s battered economy.
Four years of Palestinian suicide bombers and terror attacks had pulled the bottom out from under the nation's tourism, agricultural and construction sectors.
A firm believer in privatization, Netanyahu described the nation’s overall economic plan as a 10-step process, founded on two key principles: controlling government spending and reducing taxes to stimulate growth.
Click here to read the prime minister's full speech.
“We cannot stay an average country, not with regard to corporate tax and not with regard to income tax. We must be better,” Netanyahu said, before explaining in some detail the process in a way that even a layman could grasp.
Six of the ten steps have already been accomplished, two are being implemented this year and two would be launched in the coming year, the prime minister said.