Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich has decided to cut short his overseas trip and return to Israel three days after landing in the US. His official overseas trip had been planned to last 10 days.
Smotrich's office said that the Minister of Finance is returning to Israel, "In order to support legislative procedures amd talks on the judicial reform." Smotrich is considered one of the leading supporters of the judicial overhaul as the leaders of the party of Constitution Committee chairman MK Simcha Rothman who is implementing the fast-track legislative process. According to estimates, Smotrich may tried to push forward with a compromise on some of the procedures.
Smotrich had planned to continue from the US to Panama for a meeting of South American finance ministers and then visit Paris before returning home in another week.
Above and beyond the judicial reform legislation, it seems that the quicker than planned return of Smotrich is connected to the failure of his state visit so far. Senior members of the US administration refused to meet Israel's Minister of Finance, mainly because he had called on the "state to wipe out Huwara," although he subsequently expressed regret over his comments.
With official US representatives unwilling to be seen with him, Smotrich met in the US mainly with Israeli and Jewish officials. He spoke at an Israel Bonds supporters conference, then held an "important meeting," in his words, with Israel's ambassador in Washington, Mike Herzog. Then he visited Israel's ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan.
Smotrich had a more significant meeting with senior Citibank, during a week when the US banking system is suffering severe turbulence.
In France as well as in the US, Smotrich faced difficulties in coordinating meetings with government figures, following his statement about the Arab village of Huwara. This helped him decide to cut short his visit and board the plane back to Israel.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 16, 2023.
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