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OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Wednesday the 2023-2024 national budget was “no longer relevant” given the Gaza war and would be amended, and sounded unfazed by S&P Global’s downgrade of Israel’s outlook to “negative” from “stable”.

While putting the direct cost of the war at around 1 billion shekels ($246 million) a day to Israel, Smotrich said in an Army Radio broadcast that he did not yet have an assessment of the indirect costs on an economy partly paralysed by the mass mobilisation of military reservists and extensive Palestinian rocket salvoes.

Smotrich described the S&P downward revision from “stable” published on Tuesday as “alarmist” and said he did not anticipate major Israeli deficits despite the crisis.

Moody’s outlook downgrade fuels split reaction in Israel

He praised Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron, who was due to have stepped down but extended his tenure due to the crisis, for “functioning above and beyond”.

But Smotrich would not be drawn on whether Yaron should be formally kept in office. “We don’t have time to breathe, so we’re not dealing with this (question) now,” he said.

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