NBC News: Boosted by newly discovered natural resources, Israel is surging ahead economically – a success that is pushing the issue of the country’s $3 billion in annual aid from the United States onto the agenda.
The country made its first intervention in the foreign currency market in almost two years Tuesday, buying $100 million to peg back the growing strength of its shekel.
A Bloomberg survey this week said the shekel was the strongest of 31 major currencies tracked over the last six months.
Last week, Israel passed another milestone, a potential gamechanger for its economy. Gas began to flow from gas fields off the coast. By 2015 Israel is expected to be fully energy independent, and may be a net exporter.
And there’s more good news: In this water-challenged region, Israel is well on the way to water independence. Its water desalination industry supplies up to 40 percent of the country’s demand for water, and another 40 percent comes from recycled water from domestic and commercial consumption. Israel reuses its water two to three times.
The boom may give a louder voice to calls for a reduction to the $3 billion worth of financial assistance Israel receives from the U.S. each year – especially in the Washington, where budget battles continue.
U.S. campaign groups such as Stop The Blank Check and the Council for the National Interest have long campaigned for the aid program to end, but Republican Sen. Rand Paul recently joined the debate by saying the U.S. could no longer afford to keep borrowing money and then handing it out to others. [Continue reading…]