Smotrich meets Citibank execs, says ‘noise’ over overhaul will ‘settle down’ soon

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, fourth from left, meets executives of US bank Citibank in New York, March 14, 2023. (Courtesy)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, fourth from left, meets executives of US bank Citibank in New York, March 14, 2023. (Courtesy)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich tells Citibank executives in New York that the “noise” surrounding the government’s effort to overhaul the judiciary will “settle down in the near future” and that the coalition will adopt a compromise agreement that Israel’s “mainstream” will be able to live with.

“We will calm down the markets. We will calm down the economy. I really think that investment in Israel today is one of the safest investments one could make,” Smotrich tells the US bank executives in Hebrew remarks shared with the press.

During the meeting, the sides also discuss the impact of the SVB and Signature Bank collapses, international investment, investments in Israeli technology and other economic issues, according to a readout from Smotrich’s office.

“Israel’s economy is strong, stable and relatively easy to manage in times of crisis,” Smotrich tells the Citibank executives, making his pitch for them to further invest in the Jewish state, despite the ongoing political and economic turmoil.

The meeting is one of only a handful Smotrich has held since arriving in the US on Sunday. US government officials, representatives from the International Monetary Fund, the US Chamber of Commerce and dozens of Jewish groups across the political spectrum have refused to meet with him after he called to wipe out the Palestinian town of Huwara earlier this month. The finance minister has since apologized.

Smotrich spoke at the Israel Bonds conference on Sunday and visited the Holocaust Museum and the Israeli Embassy in Washington yesterday. He arrived in New York last night and visited a Chabad house there, his spokesman says, adding that he will be meeting with additional Jewish community leaders before returning to Israel tomorrow. He will also be meeting with the leadership of the Zionist Organization of America and the Orthodox Union.

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