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Former finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Amir Peretz the world's "champion of strikes" Sunday, even as the Labor Party chairman announced his resignation as chairman of the Histadrut after 10 years.
Speaking at the Globes Israel Business Conference, Netanyahu accused Peretz of "again and again putting stones on the way to implementing his economic reforms," which he said have saved the country from collapse over the past two years.
"Going backwards now would be a tragedy," said Netanyahu.
"Israel has become the country of strike actions, headed by the champion of strikes [Peretz]," he added. "Over the past years, 606 strike actions have cost our country 15.5 million working days or NIS 16.5 billion."
In replying to Netanyahu's comments, Peretz said at the conference in Tel Aviv that any strike was a result of the failure of both the finance ministry and the Histadrut.
"We all thought Netanyahu was a magician, but one day the magic ended. I will not attack him as I understand that it is a difficult and troubled time for him," Peretz said.
Netanyahu also presented his future economic plan should he return to lead the country. The plan would see a NIS 4b. cut in the defense budget; lowering value added tax to 14 percent; and implementing negative income tax.
Furthermore, his policies would include finishing the railway network to connect every community of over 50,000 people; developing outlying areas; and fully subsidizing daycare centers for working women.
"The breaking up of monopolies, privatization and the liberalization reforms in all the sectors of the economy are the only key to catalyze competition and a growth economy," Netanyahu added.
Peretz said he supported the free market economy, competition and globalization as an important ingredient of a strong economy but also emphasized the importance of trade unions and social organizations.
"I view the business community as a main partner," he said.
"I am of the opinion that we should establish a national socioeconomic council comprised of employers, employees, government representatives, and delegates from social organizations."