Israel's next finance minister brings religion to the front of economic strategy




  • In Business
  • 2022-12-08 09:16:00Z
  • By Reuters
 

By Steven Scheer

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israel's incoming finance minister has said his economic strategy will be infused with religious beliefs laid out in the Torah, predicting that this would help the country prosper.

Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, said that as finance minister he would delve deep into the inner workings of the economy. However, taking a step back, he said the Torah - the first five books of the Hebrew Bible - taught that obeying God brought prosperity.

He also suggested a shift in spending priorities for the incoming government, including a significantly increased budget for religious study.

Smotrich was tapped by prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as finance minister for two years. He will then be replaced by Aryeh Deri, who heads an ultra-Orthodox party.

Netanyahu on Thursday secured a parliamentary majority following a Nov. 1 election win, but has still to finalize the coalition agreements. Until he does, a caretaker government remains in office.

Smotrich is more known for his hardline politics than his economic views, which, according to his party's platform, are fiscally conservative.

He spoke about his approach in an interview with an ultra-Orthodox magazine, Mishpacha. Excerpts of the interview were broadcast by Israel's Channel 12.

"They tried many economic theories, right? They tried capitalism, they tried socialism. There is one thing they didn't try: 'if you obey'," Smotrich said, referring to Jewish scripture that calls on people to follow God's will.

Smotrich said those of faith, himself included, believed that "the more Israel promotes more Torah, more Judaism, more of the commandment to settle the land, more kindness and solidarity, then the Lord will grant us great abundance".

A spokesman for Smotrich confirmed the comments.

In a separate interview with religious news website Kikar Hashabat, Smotrich said he expected the new government would bring new priorities, adding that state financing of religious seminaries would "grow significantly".

Instead of doing mandatory military service, many ultra-Orthodox men are given exemptions in order to study at religious schools, a point of contention among Israelis.

At the same time, only about half of ultra-Orthodox men work, according to government data. Many prefer to dedicate their time to Torah study.

Israel's central bank has said this is a drain on the economy and has recommended incentives to draw more ultra-Orthodox men into the workforce.

(Reporting by Steven ScheerAdditional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Editing by Angus MacSwan and Crispian Balmer)

COMMENTS

More Related News

African state Chad to open embassy in Israel
African state Chad to open embassy in Israel
  • World
  • 2023-02-01 15:04:23Z

Chad will open an embassy in Israel, four years after the countries restored diplomatic relations, Israel's Prime Minister's Office said Wednesday. Benjamin...

India budget focuses on tax relief and spending boost
India budget focuses on tax relief and spending boost

This was the Narendra Modi government's last full budget before the country holds elections in 2024.

Palestinians face removal as far-right Israel vows expansion
Palestinians face removal as far-right Israel vows expansion
  • World
  • 2023-02-01 06:08:49Z

KHAN AL-AHMAR, West Bank (AP) - Protesters streaming up the windswept hills east of Jerusalem interrupted Maha Ali's breakfast. Palestinian chants of...

Does Israel need to prepare? Who attacked Iran and what Tehran
Does Israel need to prepare? Who attacked Iran and what Tehran's response will be
  • World
  • 2023-01-31 16:52:00Z

The strike on Iran should also be considered on a symbolic level

Blinken in Mideast renews appeal for Israel-Palestinian calm
Blinken in Mideast renews appeal for Israel-Palestinian calm

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is wrapping up a two-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank on Tuesday with renewed appeals for Israeli...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Business