Steinitz, Netanyahu, Fischer and Peres 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
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
"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."
Earlier on Monday, at the Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu told the
assembled MKs, "this is a big day for Israel."
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.
will bring Israel Billions'
At the Labor faction
meeting, meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak also hailed the
"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
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."
official announcement of accession will be announced at the OECD’s
annual ministerial council meeting in Paris on May 26-May 28.
Uri Gutman, the Foreign Ministry's director
of the OECD accession process, said Israel was now a "member of a
prestigious organization, but also an organization that has some
credibility and influence on the world economy."
Speaking to Army
Radio after the vote, Steinitz hailed the decision to accept Israel
into the "most respectable socioeconomic club" as being of “immense
importance,” saying it had both economic and political value.
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.
PA sent a letter to OECD nations asking them to postpone Israel’s
Accepting Israel 'like accepting the occupation'
Israel “would be like accepting its occupation of the Palestinian
territories,” read the letter, which was posted on the PA Foreign
Ministry Web site.
Ben-Eliezer criticized Fayyad’s attempts to
block Israel and said the letter came at a time when “Israel wants to
open indirect talks to reach an agreement and conciliation between our
A spokesman for Fayyad was not immediately available
As part of the
process of OECD accession, Israel has had to comply with
the norms and standards upheld by the 31 OECD member countries in the
fields of financial markets, anti-corruption legislation, technology
and innovation, and investment.
In the final stage over the past few months, the organization has come
to agreements with Israel on ways to tackle three critical issues:
anti-corruption policy measures, in particular in the defense industry;
compliance with intellectual property legislation common in OECD member
countries; and the exclusion of statistics relating to territories that
are not considered part of the country.
Membership in the OECD, which includes the major players in the global
economy, enhances Israel’s ability to conduct an ongoing dialogue
with representatives of these economies; forces an upgrade in Israel’s
public administration; improve Israel’s corporate management, and
reduces Israel’s risk premium and help attract investment.
Sharon Wrobel and Bloomberg
contributed to this report.