PM Netanyahu speaks at Davos Economic Forum.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday at the Davos World Economic Forum that investing in the Israeli economy is a way to facilitate peace in the region.
In a speech that largely focused on the strength of Israel as a hub for innovation, as well as research and development, Netanyahu said that the advancement of the Israeli economy would help Israel's Arab neighbors, specifically the Palestinians.
The prime minister stated that "Israel is not what's wrong in the Middle East, it is what's right with the Middle East."
Netanyahu addressed the peace process and the changing region in a question and answer session which followed his speech. He called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to embrace the opportunity for peace.
"I'm ready for peace. I'm ready for a real, secure, genuine, peace. and I hope President Abbas is ready too."
He stated that the Middle East was undergoing a process of change, by which many Arab states shared similar concerns to Israel.
"Central Arab governments in the Middle East are concerned with the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons and the spread of the Islamic brotherhood. Those governments see Israel as a partner in holding back those threats," he stated.
The premier used his remarks to praise his country's economic prowess, which he credited to "the indispensable element of entrepreneurship" as well as "sound macroeconomic policies."
"Israel is often called the 'start-up nation,' but I call it the 'innovation nation,'" Netanyahu said.
The premier touted an economic policy of "cutting taxes and removing barriers to competition so that the private sector could run forward and compete."
Netanyahu said that in the ten years since he took over as finance minister during the administration of Ariel Sharon, Israel managed to bring down the debt-to-GDP ratio to 67 percent while reducing inflation and cutting down unemployment.
The premier said that Israel's small size and the Jewish culture of "asking questions" has contributed to the country's strong economic performance.
"From the Talmud to Einstein, Jewish people were always asking questions," the prime minister said. "The questioning mind is something in our culture and adds very much to our capacities. We're very small, everything is close by, and everyone competes and collaborates with each other."
"This is an invitation to innovation nation, it's open for business, it's open for your business, please come join us," he stated.
Netanyahu's appearance at Davos came hours after that of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.
Immediately following Rouhani's speech, Netanyahu released a statement warning the world not to be deceived
by the Iranian leader's pronouncements of peaceful intentions.