Israel's Business Elite Weigh Iran's Nuclear Threat
That’s one of the reasons he took the job at Shemen: he wants to help make Israel energy independent. Since a 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, that’s now under threat, Egypt has been supplying Israel with some natural gas. But since Hosni Mubarak’sdownfall a year ago, the Egyptian pipeline in the Sinai has been bombed 12 times.
One of Ashkenazi’s former soldiers while climbing the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces was Yuval Steinitz (Israel’s Finance Minister). He believes the Iran threat must be dealt with and that military force must be on the table. He told CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera that Israel’s intelligence corps estimate that Iran will achieve the capability to hit the United States in two or three years. That is not, however, the only worry on his mind.
Like every other financial leader in the world he’s watching the situation in Europe extremely closely. Europe is one of Israel’s largest trading partners and while Israel’s economy has weathered the recent crisis extremely well, unemployment is now only around five percent, the threat of a nuclear Iran combined with the uncertainty of the Arab Spring and another blow to Europe will be a lot for the Israeli economy to endure.
Our final stop on this tour of the Israeli economy, a favorite on CNBC — SodaStream.
This Israeli factory with its American-Israeli CEO and American-Israeli Director of Corporate Development is committed to hiring people from diverse backgrounds. There are Russians, British, Ethiopians, South Africans, Israeli Arabs and almost 50 percent of the workforce is from the Palestinian Authority.
At SodaStream they get health insurance and their pay is several times what it would be in the PA. One Palestinian worker told us he’d worked for 15 years at another company but was able to save enough money to buy a house after just one year at SodaStream.
Daniel Birnbaum is SodaStream’s American-born CEO. Before this he ran Nike Israel. He wants to do for soda what Nike did for shoes, revolutionize the industry. Birnbaum understands Israel is a tough neighborhood but says investors haven’t really questioned the location of the company. The company recently signed deals with Kraft and Target .