International credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s announced on Friday it had raised Israel’s long-term sovereign credit rating from A to A+.

The agency said its decision reflected Israel’s rapid economic growth and responsible economic policy. S&P also reaffirmed Israel’s local currency rating at AA-.

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Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called the increased credit rating “a badge of honor” and said it was a reward for the economic policies adopted during the global financial crisis.

“This achievement is particularly remarkable given the debt and employment crises that have hit the credit ratings of many other countries,” he said.

“Israel must not rest on its laurels. The re-emerging global crisis requires us to act with even greater vigor, to continue to safeguard the budgetary framework and the economic policies that S&P emphasized in its announcement,” he added.

Steinitz said the agency’s emphasis on natural gas discoveries being a strength of Israel’s economy was a testament to the importance of the recent Sheshinski Law to raise the state’s shares of gas revenues.

Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley Fischer also praised S&P’s decision, saying it was important to maintain the good condition of the economy with the current policies, especially given the complicated global economic reality.

“I believe the Israeli economy will continue to justify the faith given to it by the credit rating increase. We at the Bank of Israel intend to continue to contribute to growth and to economic stability through responsible monetary policy aimed at maintaining price stability, through contributing to growth and to employment and through maintaining the financial system’s stability.”

This is the first time Israel’s S&P credit rating has been at A+, four steps below AAA. It had been at A since November 2007, and for the 12 years before that was at A- .

The other two major global credit rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, have kept Israel’s rating at A1 and A, respectively, since 2008, roughly equivalent to S&P’s new assessment.

S&P is the same company that, in August, took the unprecedented step of lowering the credit rating of the United States from AAA to AA+. The company came under heavy criticism for that decision, which shocked global markets.