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Israel on the Eve of 2023

Naomi Miller, MIBA, Director of Israel Partnerships 

As we close 2022 in Israel, the highlight was perhaps the return to a sense of normalcy after more than 2 years of Covid-19 lockdowns. Just this week, Israel announced that by January 2023 the disease will be downgraded to the level of the flu or similar viral diseases, officially ending the pandemic.

November 1st saw Israel’s fifth national election in less than four years, an election that seemed to have divided Israeli voters into 2 camps, the pro and anti-Bibi (Netanyahu) supporters. Almost 2 months later, Binyamin Netanyahu returns as Prime Minister (having held the position from 2009-2021) presenting his new government to the Knesset on December 29th. 

With Israel’s skies opening in early 2022, 2.5 million tourists visited Israel; the record year for tourism was prior to Covid-19 in 2019 with 4.5 million tourists, but the upward trend for 2023 is apparent. Israel was rated by The Swiftest, a U.S. insurance comparison website, the fifth safest country in the world visited by tourists (just behind Singapore, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Denmark). The U.S. was ranked 20 on the list. Israel remains in the top 10 of happiest countries in the world.

According to the Economist, Israel was rated the fourth best performing economy of OECD countries in 2022. The economy grew at a rate of 6.3% and exports grew over 10% to a record high of almost $165 billion. While inflation reached 5.3%, hitting a 14-year high, it is still considerably lower than in most developed economies.  The most challenging economic trend in Israel continues to be the increase in housing prices, that soared a record 19% in 2022, the highest jump in a year since price tracking began, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Many young couples and families are entering 2023 finding themselves locked out of the housing market.

The Start Up Nation saw an impressive increase of salaried employees in the high-tech sector, reaching 10.4%, the first time it has exceeded 10% of Israel’s work force, a growth of over 8 times compared to other sectors. According the Start Up Nation Central annual innovation report, this year Israel reached a record number of companies entering unicorn status, with over 40 companies worth over a billion dollars.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year and hoping to welcome you here in 2023!