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PM: I'm aware of hardship, cost of living in Israel

ByJPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
July 31, 2011 11:24

Netanyahu appoints ministerial roundtable to hear grievances; Steinitz: "We won't turn rich, industrialists into enemies of the people."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in cabinet meeti

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in cabinet meeting 311. (photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem)

Facing not a diplomatic tsunami, as some were predicting come September and the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN, but rather an economic tsunami as a result of the country's high cost of living, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced at Sunday's cabinet meeting the establishment of a "ministerial roundtable" to deal with what he termed, "genuine distress."

Netanyahu said the roundtable would invite to appear before it representatives of various different sectors. The ministers will then recommend practical plans to ease the economic situation of the country's citizens, and bring these plans to the cabinet for approval.



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"We need to act seriously and responsibly in order to create changes in the [economic priorities] and to deal with the genuine distress," Netanyahu said. He added that he and other cabinet members are "aware of the genuine hardship of the cost of living in Israel."

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Earlier Sunday morning, Finance Ministry Director-General Haim Shani stepped down amid social protests sweeping the country, citing differences of opinion with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

"We see the talk about the debt crisis in Europe. We are even hearing talk of a possible default in the United States," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said. "My supreme duty is to ensure we do not reach this situation in the State of Israel."

He rejected calls for the authorities to curb industry leaders who are often accused of artificially inflating the price of consumer goods through cartels tolerated by Netanyahu and his predecessors.

"We will not part with our principles. We will not create anarchy here," Steinitz told reporters. "We will attend to [market] concentration but we will not turn the rich and the business people and the investors and the industrialists into the enemies of the people, because they are part of a healthy economy."
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