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Ireland’s Labor Party eyes Israel for economic inspiration

DUBLIN, Ireland (JTA) — One of the parties expected to form part of Ireland’s next governing coalition is looking to Israel for economic inspiration.

The left-leaning Labor party, which is second in the polls and expected to be the junior partner in Ireland’s government following the Feb. 25 general election, has said Ireland should follow Israel’s example of technology-led growth and development to help regain the competitiveness it has lost since the dot-com bubble burst a decade ago.

In a policy paper published this week, Labor said Israel was "a clear model to follow" in driving productivity and employment through innovation. The document also pointed out Ireland was falling behind "competitor economies" such as Israel in technology absorption, research and development, and government procurement of advanced technology products.

Ireland and Israel have long seen each other as benchmark economies, as both countries rely heavily on the software, pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices sectors. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu modeled his "economic peace" policy partly on Ireland’s experiences in the late 1990s, when rapid growth in the republic underpinned efforts to sign a final Northern Ireland peace treaty.

Labor’s positive economic view of Israel is especially noteworthy, as the party has long been highly critical of Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza.

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