More than 100 of Israel’s top corporate executives and fund managers joined an appeal launched Tuesday to warn Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the coalition’s proposed policies threaten Israel’s stable democratic image around the world.
Among the signatories, Ilah Alkalai, chairman of IBI Mutual Fund, which manages about NIS 10 billion ($2.9 billion) in assets, said the business sector’s main concern is that the upcoming law could change and dictate the country’s checks and balances. To politicize Israel’s justice system and internalize its democratic principles.
Netanyahu’s incoming coalition plans to curb the judiciary, make changes to constitutional fundamentals and give far-right lawmakers broad powers in the West Bank. A party leader with an anti-LGBTQ agenda has also been empowered over some education programs.
The main concern is that if the justice system is politicized by the international community, we see it in countries like Hungary or Poland or Turkey, where political interests dictate the transparency of economic and judicial issues and increase predictable risk and cost. About business,” Alkalay commented in writing to The Times of Israel.
Netanyahu has until midnight to announce whether he will vote to swear in the new government that President Isaac Herzog plans to form a new ruling coalition after last month’s Knesset elections.
The letter of appeal to Netanyahu, signed last week by Erez Shachar, founder of Tel Aviv venture capital firm Erez Shachar, and a string of tech executives and entrepreneurs, came as members of the incoming coalition vowed to pass the decree. Called overruling and putting the ruling coalition in charge of the day on the panel that selects the justices.
The coalition, which includes Netanyahu’s Likud party, two ultra-Orthodox factions and three far-right parties, has been making the Knesset’s controversial law a condition for forming a strong government ahead of a deadline to declare a politically conditioned coalition. The proposed law includes a High Court override clause, allowing the Knesset to re-enact the judiciary over laws struck down by the High Court.
Last week, Mellanox Technologies founder Eyal Waldman was approached by investors outside of Israel, raising questions about the country’s judicial reforms.
Alkalai said she had not been approached by foreign investors, but said she expected this to happen “if the justice system is compromised”.
Alkalai, who was asked what the appeal presented by the top representatives of the business sector is trying to achieve, said, “We hope that the incoming government will re-examine the proposed changes, realizing the potential impact that it has not fully considered.”
Alkalai warned that the proposed legislative activities have the potential to harm the economy, women’s rights, the technology sector and society in general.
“We hope that the public outcry and the new and different perspectives will at least make many of the new cabinet members reconsider their positions,” she said.
Among the 110 signatories of the petition signed this week is Ilan Raviv Zvi Stepak, chairman and CEO of Maytav Investment House. Amit Masich, CEO of the McCann Israel advertising company; Israel Makov, former CEO of Teva and others.