JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the government would assess the effect of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse on Israeli companies and determine whether or not to assist them.
Israel is home to a vibrant high-tech industry, and local media said Sunday that hundreds of local firms could be exposed to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
Israeli business paper Globes said the bank was considered “the major funding body for Israeli companies” and that its fall was “closing the oxygen pipe” for the sector.
Silicon Valley Bank, the U.S.’s 16th largest bank, served mostly technology workers and venture capital-backed companies. Its collapse is the biggest bank failure since the collapse of Washington Mutual in 2008.
The bank had a branch in Tel Aviv. It was not immediately clear how many local companies did business with the bank.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said he and senior Israeli officials would consider “whether or not actions are necessary to assist Israeli companies in distress, mainly with cash-flow, due to the collapse of SVB.”
A day earlier Israel’s finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said he formed a team that would track the issue and assess the bank collapse’s impact on Israel’s economy.
Israel’s banking regulator, Yair Avidan, said that Israel was “closely examining the case and following developments.”
The bank failure came as Israeli tech leaders and economists are warning that the Netanyahu government’s proposed overhaul to the country’s judicial system could drive away investment and impact the economy.
Israel’s currency, the shekel, has dropped in value over the past two months since the government announced its plan, in part because companies have transferred funds outside the country because of concerns about the judicial overhaul.