Israel's accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is a significant advance in the state's international relations, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu  said at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

"I’d like to thank the 31 member states for voting for our joining the organization. Any one of them could have voted ‘no’ and vetoed our inclusion. They chose not to do so,” Netanyahu said, adding that “at a time when we keep hearing lamentations over Israel’s international isolation," this was a particularly welcome sign of Israel's solid international standing.

He thanked the OECD’s secretary general, saying Angel Gurria had taken it "as a personal goal to lead the process [of Israel’s inclusion into the OECD], and we owe him a debt of gratitude."

OECD, world's most prestigious
socioeconomic club

Earlier on Monday, at the Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu told the assembled MKs, "this is a big day for Israel."

Netanyahu gave credit to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer for leading the accession process, he also commended his predecessor Ehud Olmert and former finance minister Ronnie Bar-On for starting the push for OECD membership.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer told Army Radio the true benefits of Israel’s accession into the OECD would materialize over time. “The OECD is a forum of peers where ministers and directors general get to learn from each-other’s experience, which isn’t a theoretical benefit, but a very practical one.”

Fischer added that new investment sources would open up before Israel now, “there are investment funds that are restricted to investing in developed economies,” he said.

Fischer was asked whether Israel, which was cited in the OECD’s last annual report as being the most unequal society of any developed country and as having 20% of its population living in poverty, would now be forced to act on these issues. He said the OECD had no coercive power over its members, its force lay rather in peer-pressure exerted through example among the members, but that he had found this pressure to be quite effective in former roles.

'This will bring Israel Billions'

At the Labor faction meeting, meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak also hailed the decision.

"This will bring Israel billions," he said." It’s an important day for the Israeli economy."

Israel got the go-ahead to join the OECD at a meeting of representatives of the 31 member countries in Paris on Monday afternoon.

At the OECD meeting, the representatives were presented with an update on the status of membership bids, and voted unanimously to accept Israel as the 32nd member.

The organization issued a statement at its Paris headquarters saying it had invited Israel, as well as Estonia and Slovenia, to become members.

The three "will contribute to a more plural and open OECD that is playing an increasingly important role in the global economic architecture," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said. He said all three countries had been "receptive to OECD recommendations" and the membership talks were "constructive and open."

The official announcement of accession will be announced at the OECD’s annual ministerial council meeting in Paris on May 26-May 28.

Pro-Palestinian groups plan protests

Pro-Palestinian groups planned protests at the OECD's Paris base, and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on Sunday that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was trying to block Israel’s entry.

The PA sent a letter to OECD nations asking them to postpone Israel’s membership bid.