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.
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."