Faced with twin protests against his government for failing to stop both terrorism and rising prices, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened Sunday’s cabinet meeting by saying he was acting firmly on both fronts.
Following last week’s murderous attacks in Judea and Samaria, Israel took “firm measures” to beef up security and settlement construction, Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
He said the IDF located and killed two terrorists responsible for the attacks, while a third voluntarily surrendered to authorities and a hunt is on to find the fourth.
Netanyahu said that he also gave orders to expedite the demolition of terrorists’ homes and that he revoked permits to work inside Israel for the extended families of terrorists. He added that, in his capacity as defense minister, he has not automatically renewed these permits after their initial period of revocation expired.
The prime minister also noted that last week he ordered the regulation of thousands of existing homes in Judea and Samaria – something that will enable the building of roads, synagogues and public buildings – and that he authorized the construction of two industrial zones near Avnei Hefetz and Betar Illit, and approved 82 new housing units in Ofra.
Netanyahu made his comments during the cabinet meeting as several hundred residents of Judea and Samaria and their supporters protested outside the Prime Minister’s Office for greater security and more construction.
As pictures of hundreds of yellow-vested protesters in Tel Aviv demonstrating on Friday against significant increases in the price of electricity, water and food were featured prominently in Sunday’s papers, Netanyahu tried to allay fears of steep price hikes.
After noting that the leaders of Cyprus and Greece will be in Israel this week for a trilateral meeting, during which plans to extend a gas pipeline from Israel to Europe will be advanced – something Netanyahu said would turn Israel into a regional energy power – he addressed planned price hikes in electricity.
“The Minister of Finance is working on a plan with the Electricity Authority and the minister of energy to minimize any increase in prices, and he will submit the proposals within the next few days,” he said.
He also tried to minimize the price hikes in electricity – expected to reach nearly 7% – by saying the price of gasoline recently fell by 8%.
“In the last three years, the price of electricity in Israel has fallen by 15% and is significantly lower than the price of electricity in the OECD countries,” Netanyahu said. “The finance minister is working in such a way that even if the price rises, it will be minimal.” He also said that the Consumer Price Index – released on Friday – fell by 0.3% last month.
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