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Benjamin Netanyahu invites Indian realtors to partner Israeli cos to develop projects

Tel Aviv: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday invited Indian real estate developers to partner with Israeli companies to boost productivity and profitability.

“You can increase the productivity and profitability of your enterprises by partnering with Israelis who are eager to partner with you to seize the future together,” Netanyahu said while addressing the realty developer’s apex body Credai conference here through video messaging.

Israel and India are already collaborating on many areas such as security, agriculture, cyber and IT, and now construction and real estate.

In terms of growth opportunities, Indian office stock is expected to touch 1 billion sq ft by the end of 2030, from the current level of 600 million sq ft, said a Credai-CBRE joint report released here. According to the report, India is projected to have a $9-billion economic opportunity by 2030, wherein the per capita income could touch $5,625 for a population of around 1.5 billion with required annual infrastructure spending of 7-8% of GDP.

“India continues to remain a highpriority market for its long-term growth potential as is evident from the increased investment flows in the past few years. The government’s $5-trillion mission and vision of a ‘New India’ imply that top industries contributing to our economy like real estate need to usher in transformative measures which can help shape these goals,” said Credai president Satish Magar.

Real estate, which remained under the spotlight over the past five years for various policy and regulatory measures, is now seeking government’s attention mainly to resolve the liquidity crunch to help complete stalled and delayed projects.

A series of reforms including the implementation of Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016, the Goods & Services Act, amendment to Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act and the decision to demonetize high-value currency notes has certainly been helping in formalising the sector.

However, residential real estate has been witnessing sluggish sales momentum causing liquidity pressure for realty developers. The liquidity crisis had been growing for a while, and the IL&FS and NBFC crisis in the second half of 2018 further added to the stress. This, in turn, has led to a major challenge: stalled and delayed projects across the country.

“The recent changes (in business environment and at the policy level) have made developers more customer-centric…we need to find a solution to stalled projects and their financing,” said HDFC MD Renu Sud Karnad.

She believes that while the sector is going through a tough phase, it’s a passing one. However, it’s time for developers to relook, review and build robust compliance for businesses.

Lufthansa suspends flights to Tel Aviv through Friday

German airline Lufthansa on Thursday said it was suspending all flights to Tel Aviv through Friday, May 14, due to an escalating conflict in Israel.

“Lufthansa is closely monitoring the current situation in Israel and continues to maintain a close exchange with the authorities, security service providers and our own staff on the ground,” the company said in a statement.

Lufthansa said it expected flights to Israel to resume on Saturday, May 15.

Know all about Israel’s new leader Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett, who was sworn in Sunday as Israel’s new prime minister, embodies many of the contradictions that define the 73-year-old nation.

He’s a religious Jew who made millions in the mostly secular hi-tech sector; a champion of the settlement movement who lives in a Tel Aviv suburb, and a former ally of Benjamin Netanyahu who has partnered with centrist and left-wing parties to end his 12-year rule.

His ultranationalist Yamina party won just seven seats in the 120-member Knesset in March elections – the fourth such vote in two years. But by refusing to commit to Netanyahu or his opponents, Bennett positioned himself as kingmaker. Even after one member of his religious nationalist party abandoned him to protest the new coalition deal, he ended up with the crown.

Here’s a look at Israel’s new leader:

AN ULTRANATIONALIST WITH A MODERATE COALITION
Bennett has long positioned himself to the right of Netanyahu. But he will be severely constrained by his unwieldy coalition, which has only a narrow majority in parliament and includes parties from the right, left and center.

He is opposed to Palestinian independence and strongly supports Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians and much of the international community see as a major obstacle to peace.

Bennett fiercely criticized Netanyahu after the prime minister agreed to slow settlement construction under pressure from President Barack Obama, who tried and failed to revive the peace process early in his first term.

He briefly served as head of the West Bank settler’s council, Yesha, before entering the Knesset in 2013. Bennett later served as Cabinet minister of diaspora affairs, education and defense in various Netanyahu-led governments.

“He’s a right-wing leader, a security hard-liner, but at the same time very pragmatic,” said Yohanan Plesner, head of the Israel Democracy Institute, who has known Bennett for decades and served with him in the military.

He expects Bennett to engage with other factions to find a “common denominator” as he seeks support and legitimacy as a national leader.

RIVALRY WITH NETANYAHU

The 49-year-old father of four shares Netanyahu’s hawkish approach to the Middle East conflict, but the two have had tense relations over the years.

Bennett served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff for two years, but they parted ways after a mysterious falling out that Israeli media linked to Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, who wields great influence over her husband’s inner circle.

Bennett campaigned as a right-wing stalwart ahead of the March elections and signed a pledge on national TV saying he would never allow Yair Lapid, a centrist and Netanyahu’s main rival, to become prime minister.

But when it became clear Netanyahu was unable to form a ruling coalition, that’s exactly what Bennett did, agreeing to serve as prime minister for two years before handing power to Lapid, the architect of the new coalition.

Netanyahu’s supporters have branded Bennett a traitor, saying he defrauded voters. Bennett has defended his decision as a pragmatic move aimed at unifying the country and avoiding a fifth round of elections.

A GENERATIONAL SHIFT

Bennett, a modern Orthodox Jew, will be Israel’s first prime minister who regularly wears a kippa, the skullcap worn by observant Jews. He lives in the upscale Tel Aviv suburb of Raanana, rather than the settlements he champions.

Bennett began life with his American-born parents in Haifa, then bounced with his family between North America and Israel, military service, law school and the private sector. Throughout, he’s curated a persona that’s at once modern, religious and nationalist.

After serving in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit, Bennett went to law school at Hebrew University. In 1999, he co-founded Cyota, an anti-fraud software company that was sold in 2005 to U.S.-based RSA Security for $145 million.

Bennett has said the bitter experience of Israel’s 2006 war against the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah drove him to politics. The monthlong war ended inconclusively, and Israel’s military and political leadership at the time was widely criticized as bungling the campaign.

Bennett represents a third generation of Israeli leaders, after the founders of the state and Netanyahu’s generation, which came of age during the country’s tense early years marked by repeated wars with Arab states.

“He’s Israel 3.0,” Anshel Pfeffer, a columnist for Israel’s left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, wrote in a recent profile of Bennett.

“A Jewish nationalist but not really dogmatic. A bit religious, but certainly not devout. A military man who prefers the comforts of civilian urban life and a high-tech entrepreneur who isn’t looking to make any more millions. A supporter of the Greater Land of Israel but not a settler. And he may well not be a lifelong politician either.”

In Video: Naftali Bennett sworn in as Israel’s new Prime Minister, ending Netanyahu’s 12-year rule