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Home > Finance > Israel raises the bar for sale of bonds




Israel raises the bar for sale of bonds

By PAULA AMANN
The Washington Jewish Week
January 4, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Md.—Gideon Selinger brought an urgent message to American Jews last week: Israel needs your investment.

Selinger, the head of the Jerusalem office of Israel Bonds, had just received word on Dec. 14 from Israeli Finance Minister Avraham Shochat that the Barak government had set a 2001 goal of $1 billion in bonds sales.

The country's economy has been hard hit by indirect effects of the ongoing Palestinian uprising, explained Selinger in a phone interview during his visit to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 20-21. While in the area, he met with such Israel Bonds leaders and backers as Dina Kaplan, chair of the Women's Division, and Barbara Easterling, secretary general of the Communications Workers of America.

Tourism has plummeted and trade between the Jewish state and the Palestinian authority-which Selinger described as "quite substantial in recent years"-has dwindled to nearly nothing.

That adds up to estimated losses of between $1 and $2 billion or about 1 percent of Israel's Gross National Product, as a result of the unrest, he said.

Selinger put the best face on the situation, however, explaining, "It could have been much worse. The past two years have been the best in the history of the Israeli economy."

Meanwhile, defensive actions by the Israel Defense Forces, police and security services are soaking up extra funds.

"On top of it all," added Selinger, "IDF has redeployed in the north there's a new border between Israel and Lebanon."

With these new demands on state coffers, the Jewish state is aiming for bond sales next year to match the high of 1992. Normally, said Selinger, annual sales stand at between $900 and $950 million.

To reach the new goal, he said, will require targeting some new contributors "The encouraging thing is that we do see new faces at our activities in the United States-and also in South America and Europe," Selinger noted.

© JTA Inc., 2001. May not be reproduced without written permission.












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