The dispute with the U.S. over guarantees for loans to settle Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union is beginning to inflict damage on Israel. In late February, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange index plummeted 5%. The government's float of 19% of Israel Chemicals Ltd. on Feb. 26 came in below expectations.
The uncertain atmosphere is also helping to cause Soviet Jews to delay emigration to Israel. Only 4,000 arrivals are expected in February--well below the 15,000 to 20,000 per month predicted and the lowest since this wave of mass immigration began in December, 1989. The potential immigrants are concerned about a lack of jobs and other problems in Israel.They are also waiting for changes in property laws in the former Soviet republics that will allow them to sell their apartments.