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.
both internationally and domestically,
in the face of which the Government must act responsibly and sagaciously.
It must take proper and responsible steps and avoid irresponsible ones.
I must say that today in Israel we can take the necessary measures
because we have acted responsibly and sagaciously in the economic sphere in recent years.
Thus, we have the tools. We have a growing economy.
We have the lowest unemployment in 30 years. This enables us to make the necessary corrections.
We must avoid irresponsible, hasty and populist steps
that are liable to cause the country to deteriorate into the situation of certain European countries,
which are on the verge of bankruptcy and large-scale unemployment.
I do not think that anyone wants Israel to reach such a situation.
On the other hand, all of us, myself first and foremost,
along with the members of the Cabinet, we are all aware of the genuine hardship of the cost-of-living in Israel.
This affects many areas. Some of the claims that are being heard are justified and some are not.
We are obligated to deal with the genuine claims and distress.
Some of them are the result of distortions in the Israeli economy that have taken root here over many long years.
Indeed, we must deal with the genuine distress, seriously and responsibly.
This, without a doubt, compels us to change our list of priorities.
We will need to do this as well, responsibly and sagaciously.
To this end, I will appoint a special team of ministers and experts
that will propose a responsible and practical plan to alleviate Israelis' economic burden.
I ask the team to open a roundtable, to invite representatives of various groups and sectors,
to hear ideas, to hear claims and to hear solutions, and afterwards to submit a plan
for implementation to the Cabinet and to myself, which we will implement
in order to alleviate Israelis' economic burden.
Thank you very much.
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."
Amid social protests, Treasury director-general resigns
Livni calls on PM to cancel Knesset's summer recess
'Netanyahu to appoint c'tee to examine tax burden'
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."