Ex-BoI governor: There's never been such destruction of value

Anti-judicial overhaul demonstration, Tel Aviv, July 29, 2023  credit: Gilad Furst
Anti-judicial overhaul demonstration, Tel Aviv, July 29, 2023 credit: Gilad Furst

Speaking at the anti-judicial overhaul rally in Tel Aviv, former governor of the Bank of Israel Jacob Frenkel appealed to the prime minister: Throw off your political shackles.

Despite the fact that the Knesset is now in its summer recess, and the government’s judicial overhaul plan is therefore paused for the time being, mass demonstrations against the plan took place last night around Israel, for the 30th Saturday night in succession. The spur to the large turnout was the passage last week of the law curbing judicial review of executive decisions by prohibiting the courts from applying the reasonableness standard in review of decisions by ministers and the government.

A usual, the main rally was held in and around Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, but demonstrations also took place in over 100 places around the country.

The Tel Aviv rally was preceded by a march from the Lev Tel Aviv police station next to the Savidor Central railway station, in protest against police violence against demonstrators last Monday, the day the reasonableness standard law was passed.

One of the speakers in Tel Aviv was former governor of the Bank of Israel Jacob Frenkel. "We have never experienced such extensive destruction of value in such a short time, and not by external enemies, but by government policy," Frenkel said.

"Since the regime change program was published, economic growth has been damaged, the shekel has depreciated, investment has collapsed, the stock market has been faltering, the technology industry, which generates a quarter of the country’s direct tax revenue and accounts for more than half of Israel’s exports, has sustained and continues to sustain a huge blow," Frenkel added. "Worst of all, our human capital, the tech workers, the cyber experts, scientists and physicians, are looking for ways of emigrating. These are just the first buds. We are still not feeling the true consequences.

"Credit rating is not just a pair of words in reports that gather dust - it’s our very lives. Damage to Israel’s credit rating will affect every citizen. The government will have to pay more for the loans it takes, and as a result we shall all pay higher interest on loans, and that includes everybody: mortgage borrowers, loans for buying cars, loans to businesses, and even the overdraft at the bank. The shekel will be worth less, and the basket of necessities that we all consume will cost more. The problem of the cost of living, which in any case is strangling the middle class, will become even more severe. And all this - for what?

"Investment will decline, and economic growth will be harmed. The performance of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has already been impacted, and, while the world is in economic recovery, we are straggling behind. And the stock exchange is not just a matter for the wealthy. Every single one of us is invested in the stock exchange directly or indirectly. Anyone who has a pension fund, anyone who has a mutual fund, anyone who has a provident fund, is invested in the stock exchange and in the past half year has been hit hard. And again I ask: all this - for what?"

Frenkel made a personal appeal to the prime minister. "I turn to you as someone whom you appointed governor of the Bank of Israel and who together with you guided the Israeli economy for many years," he said. "We worked together to bring down inflation, and to improve Israel’s standing in the world. I appeal to you for the sake of the future of our children and grandchildren, it is only in your hands to prevent a descent into the abyss. This is the time to break free from your political shackles; this is the time to stop."

Demonstrators set up placards at places where protests gathered with pictures and names of policemen who, according to reports, have attacked demonstrators. In response, Israel Police announced that it would investigate the displays on the suspicion of the offence of insulting a public servant, slander, and incitement to violence. Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir said the displays were "a shaming and incitement campaign by a gang of anarchists." Ben-Gvir added: "I back the heroic officers of the Israel Police and those police officers who risk their lives on the streets and are also under attack on the networks."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 30, 2023.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.

Anti-judicial overhaul demonstration, Tel Aviv, July 29, 2023  credit: Gilad Furst
Anti-judicial overhaul demonstration, Tel Aviv, July 29, 2023 credit: Gilad Furst
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