Seth Freedman writes:
Despite all the diplomatic disquiet over Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, actions speak far louder than words when it comes to Israel’s international status. In May, the country seems set to be ushered into the OECD, following years of campaigning from successive Israeli governments. Such a move would be another step in welcoming Israel in from the cold, and demonstrates certain states’ willingness to overlook Israel’s questionable behaviour as an occupier in favour of enhanced fiscal and political ties.
In January the OECD’s incumbent secretary general implied that Israel’s admission is all but guaranteed, and there seems little objection to the decision from the organisation’s 30 member states. For Israel’s part, accession to the OECD is of great advantage, both in terms of global prestige and practical economic benefits. Israel’s credit rating will be upgraded as a result, and Israeli firms will find it much easier to raise capital on the back of the vote of confidence issued by the OECD’s leadership.
The only fly in the ointment is a dispute over information submitted by Israel to the OECD as part of its application for membership. Data provided by Israeli officials included figures related to Israel’s settler population, which contravenes OECD policy not to take account of a state’s economic activity beyond its recognised borders. A leaked report reveals discord among OECD statisticians, who maintain that the data should either include everyone residing in the West Bank – Palestinians as well as settlers – or no one at all.
The row has the potential to derail Israel’s acceptance to the OECD because revamped numbers could leave Israel short of the organisation’s stringent entry criteria. However, according to the report, the proposed solution allows Israel to first gain membership to the OECD, and then be granted a year’s extension to submit new figures – by which point Israel’s status as a fully-fledged member will grant it the power to veto demands for updated statistics.