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August 17, 2020 9:26 am

Israel’s GDP Plunges Nearly 30 Percent; Cabinet Approves $2.5 Billion Stimulus Package

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the first working cabinet meeting of the new government at the Chagall Hall in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem May 24, 2020. Photo: Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS. – The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved an NIS 8.5 billion ($2.5 billion) aid package to stimulate the country’s struggling economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The aim of the plan, which was presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz, is to “accelerate the economy and assist government ministries and populations at risk in dealing with the [coronavirus] crisis,” according to a government statement.

The package includes “incentives for our economy and [will] create jobs,” said Netanyahu.

“The decision allocates budgets for a series of projects in transportation, infrastructures for housing, technology and high-tech, tourism, sports, social welfare, energy efficiency and other fields,” said the government statement.

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Also on Sunday, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported that Israel’s GDP dropped by 28.7 percent during the second quarter of 2020, its sharpest decline in over 40 years.

“The economic situation is the most difficult in the state’s [72-year] history,” Katz told Israel’s Army Radio.

However, Netanyahu maintained, in a statement on social media, that the decline in the Israeli economy, in a quarterly configuration, is 7.8 percent, “among the smallest drops in the world.”

The prime minister said that only South Korea and “perhaps another two, three countries” had weathered the economic storm better than Israel during the period of April through June.

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