Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attacked critics of his economic policy
Sunday, saying they should be complimenting the government for its strong
performance rather than suggesting “populist” steps that would damage the
“The data show that the Israeli economy has improved in relation
to other economies, and that the standard of living has increased,” Netanyahu
said at the weekly cabinet meeting. “So why are there detractors who say we need
to change how we divide the pie? They fail to understand that if we deal solely
with how to divide the pie and not with how to increase it, we will be left with
Netanyahu acknowledged that there were still some stumbling
blocks in the way of increased growth, naming economic over-concentration and
centralized labor unions as two such problems. He said the government would
continue to deal with powerful corporations, in apparent reference to a bill
currently before the Knesset aimed at prohibiting cross-ownership of large
financial and non-financial corporations.
Opposition leader Shelly
Yechimovich said Netanyahu’s comments demonstrate that he apparently lives
somewhere other than Israel. She said that he was more responsible than anyone
for the lagging state revenues, as the tax reforms he initiated while finance
minister in 2003 “created a massive NIS 30 million hole” which is now being
earned back from the middle class.
“Gaps between rich and poor have
expanded to shameful proportions during his tenure,” Yechimovich said. “Whereas
things like education, health and personal security used to be afforded to
citizens as basic rights – they can now only be obtained through paying huge
sums of money. No play on words can cover up the loss of homes and job security
being experienced by the Israeli public.”
Meanwhile, the cabinet approved
a draft bill to create an agency to assist small and medium-sized businesses. If
approved by the Knesset, the authority will be tasked with proposing regulatory
steps to remove barriers to the success of Israel’s 450,000 small and medium
businesses – which constitute 99 percent of total businesses and employ 55
percent of the total work force.
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