Largely alone with his free-market ideas, Netanyahu cannot rely on Likud to put serious financial reforms on the top of the governing agenda.
Zehut’s rise in the polls is a sign that Israelis are receptive to the libertarian agenda, and for Netanyahu, it could be a sign that he may have a governing partner with which to enact sweeping financial reforms.
Israel’s libertarian moment
(April 4, 2019 / JNS)
Political parties are in full swing to sway the masses in a last-minute attempt to make the threshold or win a plurality of the votes in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset on April 9.
In Israel, security issues are at the forefront of every national campaign with the dichotomy “right-is-strong” and “left-is-weak” dominating political ads. While security is important to the average voter, Israelis are also living in an unprecedented time of peace, tranquility and prosperity. Of course, the next conflict is always around the corner, but Israelis have had a dose of normalcy in the last few decades, thus shifting some of the public imagination and focus on economic and social issues.
Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington in March 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he wishes to be remembered “as the defender of Israel and the liberator of its economy.”
Audiences home and abroad are used to hearing Netanyahu use his public appearances to discuss the many security threats Israel is facing—namely, Iran; its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon; and the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s wish to be remembered as the defender of Israel came as no surprise. His wish to be remembered as a liberator of Israel’s economy was a reminder where the country was in the early 2000s and where it stands today.
In 2010, speaking to Fox Business, the prime minister confirmed his commitment to reforms that would further liberate the country from the socialist shackles of the past.
“We’ve essentially become an export-driven, high-tech economy that has a very open marketplace. Not open enough. That’s actually our strategic opportunity for growth. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have a lot of bureaucratic controls, by removing them, you actually get added growth. And that’s the secret of what you do in an advanced economy and you want to keep it growing after it has reached $30,000 per capita income.”