Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A Palestinian state will destroy the Israeli economy, as would a left-wing government, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday.
“My brothers on the Left, enough already!” he said at a financial conference sponsored by business newspaper The- Marker in Tel Aviv.
Bennett has argued in the past that any territorial concessions to the Palestinians would put more of Israel’s territory within the range of rockets, which would seriously stunt the economy. Rocket fire from Gaza during Operation Protective Edge last summer shaved roughly a half-percent off Israel’s economic growth in 2014.
The Bayit Yehudi leader also said the price of housing would be more reasonable if Israel built more in Judea and Samaria to increase demand.
The Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday released data showing that housing starts fell 7.9% in 2014. In Judea and Samaria, which accounts for just 3.1% of Israel’s housing starts, the number of new units fell 52.5% in 2014.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, who also spoke at the conference, said Bennett’s proposal for annexing Area C of the West Bank would obliterate Israel’s economy.
“Bennett’s annexation is a direct and very substantial threat against Israel’s standing and its ability to function in the international economy,” he said.
Israel has had several scuffles with the European Union over trade from the West Bank.
Because Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, an annexation could trigger a trade ban from the EU, opponents of such a policy have argued.
Herzog said he would stop giving settlements preferential financial treatment and tackle reforming the defense budget to pay for his economic plan, which he said would increase support for the elderly and poor.