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Israel: Cybersecurity company to pull money out of country over judiciary reforms

A number of business and security leaders have expressed concerns over proposed plans to limit the power of the judiciary
High-tech company workers block a road and lift placards as they strike for an hour in Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv, on January 24, 2023, to protest the Israeli government's controversial plans to overhaul the judicial system (AFP)
High-tech company workers strike in Tel Aviv, on 24 January 2023, to protest the Israeli government's controversial plans to overhaul the judicial system (AFP)

Cybersecurity firm Wiz has announced that it will withdraw its money from Israel following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial plans to overhaul the judiciary, as a number of other companies threatened to follow suit.

According to a report by Channel 12, the $6bn value company is believed to have tens of millions of dollars in cash that will be taken out of Israel.

Wiz, co-founded by CEO Assaf Rappaport, the former head of Microsoft’s development centre in Israel, reportedly made the move after pressure from investors concerned about the judicial reforms.

The plans, which the government says are needed to curb overreach by judges, have drawn fierce opposition from groups including lawyers, and raised concerns among business leaders, widening already deep political divisions in Israeli society.

Netanyahu has dismissed the criticism as a refusal by leftist opponents to accept the results of last November's election, which produced one of the most right-wing governments in Israel's history.

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Opposition to reform

Opponents of Netanyahu say Israeli democracy would be undermined if the government succeeds in pushing through the plans, which would tighten political control over judicial appointments and limit the Supreme Court's powers to overturn government decisions or Knesset laws.

A number of other senior figures in Israel's business and tech sector have expressed concerns about the reforms in recent weeks.

Papaya Global, a Tel Aviv-based global payroll and payment management platform unicorn, said last month that it would also be withdrawing all its money from the country over the judiciary plans.

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Analysts have warned that the proposed judicial reform programme could potentially allow lawmakers to uphold any annulment of the corruption charges Netanyahu is being tried on. 

Netanyahu is the first sitting Israeli prime minister to be indicted while in office.

He denies the charges against him of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He took office in late December following his 1 November election win, heading a coalition that includes a politician who last year admitted tax evasion and a clutch of far-right personalities, including one who once kept a portrait in his home of a man who massacred scores of Palestinian worshippers.

Last month, the new national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, ordered the state's police commissioner to enforce a directive to remove Palestinian flags from public spaces a day after one was waved at a previous anti-government protest in Tel Aviv.

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