MKs across the spectrum blast gasoline price hike

“Netanyahu is raising the prices of gasoline and is scorning the middle class and the weak sectors,” complains Aryeh Bibi of Kadima.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL,
February 1, 2011 05:22
2 minute read.
Worker filling a gasoline pump.

311_gasoline pumps. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Both coalition and opposition MKs Monday complained emphatically against the gasoline price hike that went into effect at midnight Monday night.

The increase in fuel costs was the subject of Kadima’s no-confidence motion that the opposition party presented on the plenum floor early Monday afternoon.

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“Netanyahu is raising the prices of gasoline and is scorning the middle class and the weak sectors,” complained Aryeh Bibi (Kadima). “It is no embarrassment to admit a mistake and to reduce the gasoline prices to what they were six months ago.

“It is said that the economy powers the wheels of history,” he continued. “In these very days we see history before us, as nations around us go out to mass demonstrations against dictators, to fight for equality of rights and basic values – and especially due to the economic situation, when prices for basic commodities skyrocketed.”

Gasoline prices hit an all-time high at midnight, with a liter of 95 octane gas now costing NIS 7.26. It breaks the previous high of NIS 7.14 set last month.

The main reasons cited for the hike are rises in the price of petroleum worldwide, as well as tax hikes and the strengthening of the dollar. This is the third gas price increase over the past 18 months.

Israel’s gasoline prices are among the highest in the world. Throughout the Middle East, the governments of petroleum producing countries heavily subsidize the purchase of gas, making the prices of fraction of those in Israel, a non-petroleum producing country.

Opposition members were not alone in their criticism of the price hike. Economic Affairs Committee Chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) fired off a missive to Coalition Chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) in which he asked for a debate within the Likud Knesset faction regarding the rise in gasoline prices.

“Israel’s citizens, including Likud supporters, see us as directly and exclusively responsible for the gas crisis,” complained Shama-Hacohen.

“It would be a pity if the wonderful accomplishments of this government regarding the economy are swallowed by the hard feelings of the public, who don’t understand – and rightly so – why they need to pay much more than European nations. The average citizen has not met with the heads of the OECD, the IMF or the World Bank, but does meet – on a weekly basis – the gas pump which pumps too much money out of their pocket each month,” Shama continued.

Similarly, Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ) said that the government should not have raised gasoline prices while simultaneously reducing direct taxes and business taxes. Responding to a request by Ya’acov Edri (Kadima) for an urgent Finance Committee meeting on the price hikes, Gafni said that the government must change its tax policy to prevent additional price increases in other products as well.

Gafni, like Bibi, drew parallels between public unrest in Egypt and rising costs of living under the Netanyahu administration. Gafni also threatened that he would no longer support as Finance Committee chairman, any more reductions in direct taxes.


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