The first meeting of the so-called "Rothschild Team" - a committee formed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to pinpoint and propose solutions to socioeconomic problems highlighted by growing protests - was held Tuesday afternoon, led by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, who said there is a real "opportunity for change."
At the beginning of the meeting, Trajtenberg said, "This wave of protest is expressing a longing for something real, called 'social justice.'" Change, he said, "depends on our ability to listen and to translate public sentiments and into the professional language of politics."
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The Trajtenberg Committee, according to the road map outlined by Netanyahu in the cabinet, will hold intensive discussion with “different groups and sectors within the public.”
The committee will then make proposals to the government’s 16-minister
socioeconomic cabinet, headed by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
After this body hears the proposals, Netanyahu said on Sunday, “final
recommendations will be formulated and submitted to me. I intend to
submit the plan to the whole cabinet.
Netanyahu said the committee should focus on five areas: changing the
country’s priorities to ease the economic burden on the population;
changing the mix of tax payments; expanding access to social services;
increasing competition to reduce prices; and implementing the housing
plan the government has already launched.
Trajtenberg, currently the chairman of the Planning and Budgeting
Committee of the Council for Higher Education in Israel, served in the
past as the head of the National Economic Council, and as the prime
minister’s chief economic adviser from 2006 to 2009.
He said he was taking on the new job with “mixed feelings,” both
“excited” by the “rare opportunity to bring about genuine change,” and
with a “deep awareness of the great responsibility that this task
entails, given the expectations and the risks.”
Trajtenberg characterized the current protests as a “very strong, very
impressive and unconventional process.” The protests expressed both
“frustration, pain and disappointment” that a reasonable economic
existence seemed a remote dream for young working families, and a “very
tangible yearning, hope and longing for social justice,” he said.
“Pain on the one hand and longing on the other signify a great potential
for a change for the better within Israeli society,” Trajtenberg said.
“To a large extent, this depends on the ability to translate these
genuine feelings from the language of protest into a language of deeper
professional understanding, and eventually into the language of action,
policy and implementation.
“The translator’s task is not easy. The dictionaries of the past will
not help. They failed. We must find, we must perhaps invent the Rosetta
Stone that will allow us to do the work.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this report