“I want to turn Israel into THE superpower!… the technological superpower of the 21st century!”
The prime minister spoke of the interdependence of economics and security for Israel’s success at the Globes Business Conference on Wednesday.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told attendees at the Globes Business Conference Wednesday that economic, political and military power are all interdependent and crucial to the survival of the state — and to its success, which he intends to increase exponentially for the sake of its citizens, and to gain peace.
On the security front, he said, “Without military power, you will simply be slaughtered,” and that in this region “only the strong survive,” so the security of the state is paramount.
Saying he told the president of Moldova, whom he accompanied on his visit to Yad Vashem on Tuesday, “My paramount duty as prime minister is to ensure that there won’t be another Yad Vashem.”
All of Israel’s military power costs money – “a lot of money,” as he put it – and therefore Israel needs economic power as well. Noting that the $3.8 billion a year in American aid only covers 12 percent of the country’s defense budget, Netanyahu said that the remaining 88 percent must come from the free market.
“It’s the only way,” he said, because only a free, open economy can bring in enough investment, trade, and employment to fill the government coffers as well as achieve the standard of living Netanyahu envisions for Israelis in the future.
Israel a rising power
The prime minister gave an overview of how Israel’s current successes in such fields as high tech, big data, health, energy, and water have led world superpowers India and China (as well as certain Arab states) to cooperate and invest more and more with Israel.
“I want to turn Israel into a rising world power,” he said, which necessitates raising the country’s GNP (gross national product). There are two ways to do this, he said: “Either you export new products or open new markets.” Netanyahu promised to help Israel do both.
The Globes Business Conference is taking place Wednesday and Thursday in Jerusalem. It is the largest and oldest of its kind in Israel, having been held annually for the last 20 years.
Over 150 speakers will address the conference over the two days, including Israel’s political and economic leaders. There will also be special sessions focusing on topics like the biggest business exits of the year, the cost of living, future challenges of the labor market and health system.
- Strong hi-tech sector helps Israel build diplomatic ties: PM
- Netanyahu speaks at business conference in Jerusalem
Israel will have to let foreigners work in its vaunted technology sector if it wants to ensure the industry’s growth, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“In Silicon Valley they’re doing it: You hear Hindi and Hebrew on the streets,” Netanyahu said at a business conference Wednesday in Jerusalem. Even if the country enlists peripheral communities that barely work in the field, such as Arab citizens and ultra-Orthodox Jews, Israel would still need to bring developers and engineers from abroad to meet the demand for talent, he said.
A world-class tech sector has been the driving force behind Israel’s economic growth in the past 20 years, but the sector now faces labor shortages that threaten its trajectory. There are about 15,300 open positions in the industry as of July, up 28 percent from the previous year, according to a report by Startup Nation Central, a non-profit that tracks the industry.
Maintaining and even boosting the growth of Israeli tech businesses is central to Netanyahu’s strategy to strengthening the Jewish state in a region where “only the strong survive, and only the strong make peace,” he told the conference. The hi-tech sector’s success begets diplomatic breakthroughs, including with formerly hostile Arab states in the Persian Gulf, Netanyahu has long argued.
In the past, local startups have pressured the government to give foreigners working visas, but the effort has met resistance. In the meantime, about a quarter of those companies now employ workers in foreign offices, according to Startup Nation Central’s findings.
“As the demand for tech talent is rapidly increasing, it is not being matched by the supply of programmers, scientists, and engineers, creating a growing shortfall,” the report said. “To date, significant parts of the industry have hired mostly university-trained, experienced, Jewish male candidates, which is not a long-term sustainable strategy for a growing sector.”
I WAS GOING TO SAY FOREIGN WORKERS AND FOREIGN INVESTMENT WOULD NEED CAREFUL VETTING! … TEN STEPS AHEAD OF YA DANNY BOY!
20 December 2018 10:43 (UTC+04:00)
Against the background of the U.S.-China trade war and concerns about China’s industrial espionage, Israel is moving forward with plans to vet foreign investment for the first time, Trend reports referring to Haaretz.
Legislation that would set out the structure and terms for a government committee with the power to approve or order changes in deals involving foreign investors is being examined by National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat.
Sponsored by Zionist Union lawmaker Omer Bar-Lev, the bill is due to be deliberated in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee next week and then go to the ministerial legislative committee.
“The proposal isn’t aimed just at restricting investments by Chinese bodies,” Bar-Lev said. “If a Russian company wants to buy a cybersecurity company of a major tech company like Check Software, it will need to be vetted. So will investments by front companies registered in Luxembourg, let alone a private company that may have Arab parties behind it.”
Prof. Avi Simhon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s economic adviser, told Knesset members last July that a plan to vet foreign investment was in the works and that matter was brought up in the security cabinet three weeks ago. Simhon has been working on the issue for two years.
But, as Bar-Lev’s statement indicated, the bill’s backers have proceeded cautiously on the matter for fear of causing friction with China. Chinese companies are building ports in Ashdod and Haifa, and the Tel Aviv Light Railway. They have also become increasing important investors in Israeli high-tech companies.
Netanyahu has been encouraging Chinese investment both to draw in more foreign investment and as a way of strengthening bilateral ties.
Chinese companies have been turned back multiple times in their quest to buy the Israeli insurance companies Phoenix and Clal, but that was the initiative of the capital markets regulators, who expressed concern over Chinese control of hundreds of billions of shekels in Israeli pension savings.
In the case of defense companies, the Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate can withdraw the export licenses of companies sold to foreign buyers. In any case, companies selling to the Israel Defense Forces sign secrecy agreements.
Under the proposed legislation, foreign investments involving investing in, acquiring or merging with an Israeli company would be examined by a government committee.
The businesses needing to seek approval would be involved in critical technology, connected with national infrastructure projects or companies with access to significant data on Israeli citizens. The latter would include companies in telecommunications, financial services and defense.
The panel would have 30 days to examine a deal and an additional 15 days after that to publish its explanation for disallowing it. It could also give parties to a deal 60 days to amend it to meet the committee’s requirements for approval.
The panel will include the finance, defense, public security and justice ministers, or their representatives, as well as the head of Israel’s National Cyber Authority. The finance minister will chair it.
“The idea that the committee will be headed by the finance minister or his representative – and not a representative of the security establishment – is critical,” said Bar-Lev. “An important part of the proposal is preserving a balance between supervising the market and freedom to conduct business.”
If Israel goes ahead with the plan it will be joining a worldwide trend. In August U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018, which broadens the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment. In November European Union institutions agreed to terms of a planned mechanism to screen foreign direct investment within the bloc.