(photo credit: Israel Weiss (firstname.lastname@example.org) http://artfram)
The population just above the poverty line is the one most likely to endanger
Israel’s economic and political stability in the near future, the National
Insurance Institute’s deputy director for research and planning told a panel
hosted by The Jerusalem Post in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
representatives from differing sectors – including the public service, hi-tech
industry, investment houses and trade organizations – spoke on the panel, where
they discussed the state of the economy in the aftermath of the global financial
crisis. The participants were near unanimous in agreement that the economy is
strong, but they did warn about social instability as a result of economic
The NII’s Daniel Gottlieb said 110,000 families currently
receive unemployment benefits and that their situation is terrible, but despite
the figures they are not the ones who endanger stability.
endanger stability are those who are just above the poverty line: the person who
has a job, who works for a wage that is too low, who works hard and is not able
to absorb an unexpected financial blow, [such as an expensive] dental
operation,” he said.
If the economy takes a turn for the worse, he
warned, “this could push the class above the poverty line below the poverty
line…turning people who are not used to being poor into poor people. [Then] they
will take to the streets, especially those who are young, frustrated and not so
Gottlieb noted that the NII’s data shows that poverty is
gradually shrinking, although he emphasized that OECD figures show Israel still
near the bottom of developed countries in terms of equality of income
On the general state of the economy the panelists were
overwhelmingly positive. Hi-Tech Industry Association CEO Oded Hermoni said the
conference hosted by his organization in Jerusalem two weeks ago had been its
most successful yet, with the “unprecedented” attendance of CEOs and deputy CEOs
from all the major American hi-tech companies showing that Israel is still seen
as a world leader when it comes to technology.
representing the Manufacturers Association of Israel, said even though exporters
are missing out on deals because the strong shekel has decreased their
competitiveness, the situation is still good from a demand perspective and sales
are still increasing.
Other panelists pointed to key indicators, such as
unemployment, which has hit a decades low of 6 percent, and the continued rapid
economic growth as proof that the economy is still getting stronger.
full report on the panel will appear in the financial supplement to the Post’
Friday edition next week.