(Bloomberg) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said concerns over his plan to rein in the judiciary are misguided, as the move will cut unnecessary regulation and make the country a more attractive place to invest.
“To investors, I say — keep investing in Israel, it will pay off,” Netanyahu said at a news conference on Wednesday. “Israel was a good place to invest and Israel will become an even better place to invest.”
Netanyahu returned as prime minister late last year after winning elections as part of a coalition with members of the far right. He has since faced mounting criticism over his government’s judicial plan, but argues that contrary to claims by opponents, it will not harm property rights.
Tens of thousands of protesters have demonstrated against the proposals in recent weeks. The reform would give coalition politicians greater influence over the appointment of justices and limit the court’s oversight of the legislature.
Earlier this week, a voting member of the Bank of Israel’s monetary committee stepped down, saying the changes represent a danger to the country’s democracy and economy. A group of more than 250 economists published a letter on Wednesday warning the reform could damage the country’s credit rating and Israeli companies’ ability to raise capital, Ynet reported.
Netanyahu pushed back against all of that, flanked by three top ministers at an evening news conference.
“I stress again the judicial reform is meant to put Israel back into the families of democracies that are leading the world,” he said. “It will strengthen the rule of law and return the balance among the government’s branches. We are dedicated to the independence of the court.”
Netanyahu compared the outrage to other times he has faced criticism — incorrectly, he said — over economic changes.
Yet a large number of Israeli economists have said they are deeply worried by the proposed reforms.
“What we know is that for the economy to prosper, we need good institutions,” Omer Moav, professor of economics at Reichmann University and the University of Warwick, said in an interview. “What are good economic institutions? Those that protect property rights, which means law and order and that the government, the ruling group, will not take from the citizens in a way that is illegal and unreasonable and unpredictable.”
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