Leading into the High Court of Justice’s blockbuster decision Wednesday night regarding the fate of the hotly debated complex coalition deal, current Israel Bonds chairman and former Israel cabinet secretary Israel Maimon told The Jerusalem Post he is much happier in his present role.
Maimon was involved in multiple complex government and coalition negotiations from 2001-2007, including the split-off and formation of Kadima and maintaining the coalition upon shifting power from Ariel Sharon, who was incapacitated by a stroke, to Ehud Olmert.
“I would rather be the CEO of Israel Bonds than negotiating coalition agreements. It is so challenging now with all of the situation of not having one big party, but you still need to get to a 61 MK majority” Maimon said. “Coming up with solutions [for such a coalition] is so challenging. I would very much rather be with Israel Bonds… where I am still serving the State of Israel with so much purpose… but from the side.”
The Israel Bonds CEO said that, “it is such a great privilege to be in a different role, but to still serve Israel with so many people backing me and without the political confrontation.” Owing to the sensitivity of his role, Maimon declined to give his view of the deal, whether pro or con.
Next, he discussed the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis on Israel and the Diaspora, and how best to mobilize the recovery effort.
Maimon said that Israel Bonds is stepping up to the challenge to support the Jewish state, even as “Jewish people in the US and overseas are facing the same issues: unemployment, questions about losing liquidity, questions about whether to invest in any investment product.”
He explained that he is hearing about “a lot of pride because of how impressively Israel is handling the pandemic compared to other places. Every person who dies is a family member or a friend, but it still gives Jews everywhere a sense of pride about how Israel is doing.”
ALL OF THIS is important because, as Maimon noted, “from the beginning when the corona crisis all erupted, it was obvious that every government, including Israel, was going to face an increase in the deficit.”
He rattled off the reasons for the increased deficit, including “lack of productivity leading to reduced income tax and VAT payments, a greater use of the military, more soldiers having to spend time in their bases – a huge increase in cost – as well as increased payments for unemployment and to keep some industries” from going bankrupt.
In terms of impact, the Finance Ministry has successfully issued two rounds of $5 billion each in bonds on different stock exchanges, which were purchased by a couple dozen major institutions.
Maimon’s arm of Israel Bonds usually raises around $1.2 billion per year and has set a goal of $1.7 billion to try to make up for the extra economic difficulties brought on by the corona period.
Fortunately for Jerusalem, “Israel Bonds is one of the unique resources that the State of Israel has to raise capital,” pointing out that they have 130,000-150,000 existing clients around the world, including in the US, Canada, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere.
He complimented the Finance Ministry on strong coordination during this period to help relieve some of the impacts of an increased Israeli government deficit.
In addition, Maimon said that “we have relationships and partnerships not just with Jewish clients, but also partnerships with US banks, states, municipalities and counties.”
He named New York, Ohio and Arizona as having made major purchases in recent weeks.
Maimon said the hope is that the organizing that Israel Bonds did for raising capital even as the corona crisis just started to hit – and that it is still doing – will help Israel’s economy land far more smoothly than some other countries which did not hit the ground running for long-term financial planning.