Almost half of small business owners are sure judicial overhaul will harm them: poll

Two-thirds say they are more concerned than they used to be for their business’s stability amid divides over controversial legislation

People on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem, September 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
People on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem, September 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Small businesses in Israel fear the impact of the government’s planned far-reaching overhaul of the judiciary, with almost half saying they are convinced their business will be harmed by its ramifications, according to a poll published Monday.

The poll, conducted by the All Club business owners association ahead of an economic conference later this week and reported by Channel 12 news, also found that 66 percent of respondents said they have been more fearful recently about the stability of their business than they were in the past.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, a collection of ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties, has barreled ahead with legislation that aims to weaken the High Court of Justice, hand politicians control over the appointment of judges, enable the Knesset to avoid judicial review for legislation, and enable ministers to appoint — and fire — their own legal advisers.

However, it indicated on Monday that it would delay all the bills until the end of April except the one aimed at handing the coalition control of judicial appointments, including to the High Court.

Business leaders, Nobel-winning economists, and prominent security officials have spoken out against it, military reservists have threatened to stop reporting for duty and even some of Israel’s closest allies, including the US, have urged Netanyahu to slow down. There have been weekly mass protests and civil disobedience in protest of the changes. Repeated efforts by President Isaac Herzog to broker a compromise have not yielded fruit.

Among the 1,410 small business owners across the country sampled in the poll, 47% are convinced that the overhaul in its current form will be bad for their businesses, while 19% said expect that it will have a positive effect. Ten percent said it would have no influence.

“This illustrates how the most important sector of Israel’s economy is hurt, troubled and fearful for its future,” All Club director Eti Raz said, according to the report. “The small business owners are the ones who feel on the ground how the recent period affects them in business and their frame of mind.”

The poll found that 46% feel their business is already being affected by the public mood surrounding the overhaul, while 28% said it has had only had a minor influence, and a quarter said it has had no influence at all.

Only a third said that the current situation doesn’t affect their concerns at all.

The survey also found that 84% of business owners feel the government isn’t doing enough to promote small businesses while just 16% said they were satisfied.

The Channel 12 report did not say when the survey was conducted or in what form the poll was taken.

Small businesses in Israel took a battering during the coronavirus pandemic amid a series of lockdowns and other restrictions on public life in 2020-2021.

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