Minister Steinitz
Minister Steinitz Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israelis are used to hearing about incitement against individuals and groups for their politics or religious beliefs – but even more dangerous than those is “incitement” against corporations, which is a large part of the public discourse in Israel today, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Thursday. “There is an atmosphere of populism that is bordering on incitement against the business sector,” Steinitz told a meeting of CEOs in Tel Aviv.

“The protests for social justice this past summer were legitimate, but it has degenerated into an ugly wave of incitement against investors, entrepreneurs, corporate heads, and businesses.” Steinitz said. “Incitement of any type is to be condemned, but incitement against the business sector is especially dangerous. This incitement must stop; there is no economy without entrepreneurs, CEOs, or investment money. The trend, in which profits for investments are now considered a bad thing, must be halted, and it's a shame that it ever started.”

Turning to the CEOs, Steinitz said “I know it hasn't been easy for you. You have double the worries – worries about the state of the economy, and about how to deal with incitement.

“As Finance Minister, I am concerned about the economy, but I also am required to help push entrepreneurs and investors to invest their time and money in new businesses, and to leave them enough space to do business,” Steinitz continued. He himself did not have an easy job, either, he told the audience; for a Finance Minister, there is a delicate balance between doing too much, and not doing enough.

Taking as an example the decision of the Shashinsky Panel to require gas and oil exploration companies to substantially increase the license fees they pay the country for the rights to explore for natural resources on land and water, Steinitz said that it had taken a long time before the idea of raising the fees was even accepted, and he was widely condemned in the business community for it. “Now the critics ask why I did not take even more. But a wise government leaves business enough room to grow and develop,” he added.