Trump administration officials are weighing a plan that would give the Export-Import Bank a $3 billion boost in 2019.
The proposal, first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, would increase the amount of money the bank can give to companies and organizations, including Israel’s biggest companies, to help the government meet the needs of the Israeli economy.
The bank, known by the acronym EIB, has played a central role in Israel’s efforts to combat the spread of diseases, boost tourism and provide a boost for the state’s economy.
Trump administration sources told the Journal the money could be used to help businesses with new facilities and other equipment, to hire more workers and to pay for upgrades to existing facilities.
The move would be a major step for Israel’s struggling economy, which has been buffeted by high unemployment and a slowing economy in recent years.
The new money would also be used for infrastructure and projects such as the development of a high-speed rail network, said one senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The decision would also allow the government to raise taxes, the official said, but the final details would be left to the administration.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Israel’s EIB has been the target of criticism from right-wing lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who called it an “unfortunate waste of money” and a “sabotage” of Israel’s economy, the Journal reported.
“It’s a disaster for Israel,” Cruz said in a statement.
“The EIB is a key tool in Israel that enables Israel to attract international companies to invest and grow, but it is not a tool that helps the state succeed economically.”
The White, State and Treasury Departments all said in public statements that the plan would be used “in a manner consistent with EIB policies, which are to support the development and growth of Israel,” and that they would be reviewing the proposal.
The Wall St. Journal article, citing two people familiar with the matter, said the decision would come at a time when Israel is considering how to finance a $1.5 billion construction program for the West Bank, a project that has been in the works since 2016.
Israel is struggling to build roads, schools and other infrastructure, as well as to pay down its massive debt to Wall Street banks, and some analysts believe that the country’s economy is likely to continue to shrink.
The government has been struggling to borrow money to keep up with soaring domestic and international interest rates, and the World Bank has urged the government and the Bank of Israel to make structural changes.
A recent report by the Israeli government’s finance ministry found that Israel’s gross domestic product has shrunk by 8.6 percent this year, the slowest rate since 2014.
Israel has struggled to reduce its debt as the economy has contracted and as a growing number of people have left the country.
Israel also is grappling with a slowdown in exports to the United States, which is the biggest export market for the country, and with China’s rise in the region, which also is struggling.
The Trump White House has been working on a budget proposal that would provide a new $50 billion fund for the EIB to help pay for its operations, the Wall Street Post reported.
The $3.5bn is slated to be earmarked for the development program, which would include a $10 billion loan guarantee for construction projects and a $4.7 billion loan for upgrades for infrastructure.
The funding would help companies and nonprofits invest in new projects in Israel and abroad, the paper reported.