Knesset discusses regulating bank commissions

The Knesset's Economics Committee was to discuss on Monday several private proposals calling to regulate bank commissions in Israel. According to the proposed bill, the Bank of Israel will be able to prevent future rises in commissions and even to cancel payments already made by bank customers. MK Gilad Erdan (Likud), who is behind one of the proposals, explained that regulation is necessary and did not endanger the free market: "There is no real competition - banks copy one another and raise commissions together - thus forcing the legislating authority to interfere", Erdan said. The bill is the hope of millions of Israeli customers and the nightmare of bank managers. Bank Leumi chairman Eitan Raf compared the bill to Bolshevism. "I think it's a very dangerous situation, which should be prevented by all means," Raf said. Not all bank managers bothered sending a representative to the committee; they were busy preparing for their Tuesday meeting with Stanley Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel. Fischer is almost the last person holding back the new law proposal, which will be a definite blow for banks, but a victory for their clients.