Ex-Federal Reserve head Bernanke: Israeli legal shakeup to cause ‘tremendous damage’
Israeli TV network cites former senior US official as saying country ‘needs to move slowly and build a broad consensus’ on judiciary changes
Former US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warned that the Israeli government’s planned judicial overhaul would “cause tremendous damage,” in quotes aired by Channel 13 news on Saturday.
“Israel needs to build a consensus regarding any significant change in the legal system,” Bernanke told the network.
Channel 13 did not provide Bernanke’s comments in English, only airing text quotes of his statements translated into Hebrew.
“Israel is a small and open economy that depends on international trade and international investments for economic growth and prosperity,” Bernanke said according to Channel 13. “There will be tremendous damage to the security of foreign investors, trading partners, and Israeli entrepreneurs as a result of sudden institutional changes that will increase uncertainty, create new legal and political risks, and jeopardize the rights of minorities.
“To ensure that Israel’s extraordinary economic success continues, Israel needs to move slowly and build a broad consensus regarding any significant change in its legal system or form of government,” he added.
Bernanke, who was awarded the 2022 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, served as Federal Reserve chairman during the 2008 financial crisis.
The legislative plans by the right-religious government, Israel’s most hardline to date, have sparked mass public protests in Israel for over two months, as well as fierce backlash from opposition politicians and dire warnings from economists, business leaders, legal experts and security officials.
Critics of the government’s divisive judicial overhaul have said the coalition’s proposals will weaken Israel’s democratic character, remove a key element of its checks and balances and leave minorities unprotected. Supporters have called it a much-needed reform to rein in an “activist” court.
A number of polls have indicated the legislation is broadly unpopular with the public.