Knesset to hold emergency meeting on economy

Factions slam Netanyahu's handling of "crumbling" economy; PMO releases ad campaign on reforms to lower cost of living.

By NADAV SHEMER
August 22, 2012 18:44
2 minute read.
Knesset building.

Knesset building with State symbol 390. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Kadima on Wednesday called for the Knesset to hold an emergency meeting to discuss “the crumbling economy,” as the Prime Minister’s Office launched a campaign lauding its reforms meant to lower the cost of living.

The meeting will be held next Wednesday at 11 a.m., during the Knesset’s summer recess.

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According to Kadima faction chairwoman Dalia Itzik, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been making misleadingly optimistic projections about the Israeli market.

“Netanyahu’s false conceptions are now crashing, and the people paying the price are the lower class and the weaker sectors,” Itzik said. “The Knesset must convene immediately to give the government a red card” like those used to kick a player out of a soccer game.

Itzik also accused the government of publicly discussing a possible attack on Iran to distract from the “economic avalanche that is on the way.”

Meanwhile, half-a-year after approving a raft of measures aimed at reducing the cost of living, the government has launched a NIS 5 million campaign to advertise the reforms.

The commercials, which will appear on television and radio and in newspapers in the coming weeks, feature typical Israeli families who supposedly benefit from tax breaks, free kindergarten and other initiatives. The campaign was commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Office, Treasury and Education Ministry and produced by the Government Advertising Bureau.

In one of the TV ads, Hod Hasharon couple Haim and Chen Greenberg talk about the pressures of financing a mortgage and supporting two small children. The recently introduced tax credits boost the family’s net income by around NIS 700-NIS 800 each month, they say, “which gives us a little room to breathe.”

Rami and Yaara Kaplan from Ramat Gan are featured in another ad, along with their son Ido. Children are constantly full of surprises, they say, but “the happiest” surprise was when they found out that sending Ido to kindergarten would cost them nothing. At the end of the ad, the voiceover says that almost 270,000 children aged three and up will receive free education when school begins soon.

Early this year and at the end of 2011, the government approved amended versions of the Trajtenberg Report’s recommendations on reducing the cost of living.

The report, which was commissioned one year ago in response to massive public protests, contained chapters on taxation, education, competition and housing. Among the measures were free education for children aged three to four and after hours education care for children aged three to nine.

Netanyahu’s spokesman Liran Dan told Army Radio on Wednesday that the campaign was launched to ensure that people “know and understand” the government’s actions.

“Some of the families who were invited to participate in the advertising campaign didn’t even know that they were eligible for these benefits,” Dan said. “There is information here that could have financial value for people.”

The Labor Party slammed the campaign, calling it “ironic and cruel” in light of the recent increase in unemployment.

“This advertising campaign is election propaganda funded by the public,” a Labor spokeswoman said. “Too bad the millions were not invested in a more worthy cause. The government serves the public, and is not a private corporation that buys advertising space to glorify its name.”

According to Labor, most Israelis’ economic situations are the opposite of the ideal shown in the clips.

“No campaign can hide the unemployment, the poverty and the exhaustion of the middle class,” the spokeswoman said.


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