Lieberman: Trajtenberg committee is unnecessary

Foreign minister says immediate steps are needed, not committees; Livni slams PM for not understanding that protesters want a "different Israel."

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
August 15, 2011 01:50
2 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman [file]

Foreign Minsiter Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Uriel Sinai)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu faced criticism from the Right and Left on Sunday over the Trajtenberg Committee that he appointed to find solutions to the housing shortage and other socioeconomic problems.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman released his own plan for solving the problems, which he sent to Israel Beiteinu MKs on Sunday. He intends to demand the implementation of his suggestions.

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“There is no need for bloated committees or huge forums that will talk to themselves and take too much time,” Lieberman warned. “What is needed is to take immediate steps.” The nine steps Lieberman is demanding include giving soldiers the average salary in the work force for three months before they end their service, subsidizing child care for working mothers with children aged three months to three years, allocating land to contractors who reserve 15 percent of apartments for affordable housing, building infrastructure in Negev and Galilee farming villages, and building 1000 public housing units for poor people every year for three years.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni criticized Netanyahu’s handling of the housing crisis, telling Israel Radio the prime minister “only gives speeches because he doesn’t want to really change the situation.” Netanyahu, she charged, “doesn’t understand that the people in the streets want a different Israel and aren’t talking only about transfers between budget items.” His actions, particularly regarding the budget and the appointment of the Trajtenberg Committee, she explained, “show that he’s not interested in a true change of priorities.”

But Defense Minister Ehud Barak defended Netanyahu. He warned against irresponsibly cutting the defense budget in response to social justice protests across the country, saying, “We live in the Middle East and it would be wrong to ignore that fact.” In an interview with Army Radio, Barak identified with protesters, saying affordable housing “is not a luxury,” but added that he would agree to budget cuts only as part of a comprehensive “package deal.” “The Defense Ministry and the IDF are part of the country and we will help carry the burden with everyone – if there will be a package deal, we will be part of it, “ Barak stated, adding that a team would be formed to check the possibility of cutting the budget.

Barak, who lives in one of the most prestigious skyscrapers in the country, recommended taxing the rich. He said his neighbors in the Akirov Tower and his former neighbors in Kfar Shemariyahu could handle it.

“I look at what is happening now as an opportunity, not a threat,” Barak said. “There is a chance to make a deep change in the pact between citizens and the government. There is an opportunity for a new deal here.”

Michael Omer-Man and Daniel Clinton contributed to this report.


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