Netanyahu Defends Israeli Democracy After Moody’s Cuts Outlook.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the strength of Israel’s democracy after Moody’s lowered the country’s credit outlook because of a planned judicial overhaul that has spurred mass protests.
Netanyahu, who said Saturday that the dispute won’t harm the Israeli economy, expressed confidence that a compromise could be reached over the plan that has increasingly divided the country since the government proposed it in January.
“Israel is a vibrant democracy, has been a vibrant democracy and will remain a vibrant democracy,” Netanyahu said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “The one who’s most committed to that is me.”
Moody’s Investors Service lowered Israel’s credit outlook to stable from positive on Friday, saying the government’s planned changes to the legal system point to a deterioration of Israel’s governance. 
On Sunday, Israel Securities Authority Chair Anat Guetta, ending her term after more than five years, said the rating action was a warning sign that Israel’s economy “does not provide local and foreign investors with the sense of security that characterized it until now.”
Netanyahu’s comments on US television echoed a joint statement he issued with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich that described the “lively discourse” as a sign of democratic strength.
“By their very nature, intense political disputes lead to protest and can create temporary uncertainty; these are risks that are taken into account and hedged within the economic assessments of the State of Israel,” they said in the statement released Saturday. 
“There will be no damage to Israeli democracy and the Israeli economy,” according to the statement.
Faced with protests, Netanyahu’s far-right government has put a hold on the plan, which would curtail the power of the Supreme Court to choose new judges and cancel laws approved by parliament.
Netanyahu acknowledged on NBC that Israel is “a divided country right now.” But he said was confident that a compromise with the opposition could be found on the proposed judicial overhaul. 
“I think there’s a basis of agreement,” he said. “It’s obviously highly politicized.”

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