Shalom Simhon 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon said Thursday he would work
“aggressively” against attempts from Treasury officials to open the economy to
Israeli industry was facing a challenging
period because of deteriorating global economic conditions, he said at the
Kibbutz Industries Association’s annual conference in Ramat Gan.
accused Finance Ministry officials of using the Trajtenberg Report on
socioeconomic change to further their own agenda, including removing all import
“We are in favor of competition, for opening the market and
for streamlining,” he said.
“But those who think the citizens of Israel
will enjoy junk products from Southeast Asia and from South America are
“Products that don’t meet health and safety standards won’t
enter Israel. I won’t allow a situation where a child holds an unsafe toy or a
student writes with a pencil made from unsafe lead... even if I have to block
the ports myself.”
Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich, speaking
after Simhon, said the Trajtenberg Report’s recommendation to remove importation
barriers, thereby exposing Israeli industry to mass layoffs, was “Orwellian.”
She, too, accused Treasury officials of bringing all their “bizarre” ideas to
Simhon and Yacimovich both called for the budget to be
expanded to deal with the deteriorating condition of the global
“This is a dispute over Israel’s future character,” Simhon
“If the United States and Europe could pour billions into their
budgets, then such a step will also benefit Israel. It would be much worse to
send thousands of Israelis to apply for unemployment
Yacimovich said her party was the only one with an
alternative economic agenda – one called “social democracy,” which combines the
free market with regulation that ensures it doesn’t turn into a “thuggish
She said the kibbutz movement embodied these ideals, calling the
Kibbutz Industries Association’s success “poetic justice” because it proved
socialist values could go hand in hand with economic growth.
Industries Association, formed in 1962, represents more than 300 industrial
plants on kibbutzim, moshavim and regional enterprises.
According to data
presented at the conference, the turnover of its affiliated plants has grown
steadily in the last decade, reaching NIS 39.8 billion in 2010. The organization
expects to end 2011 with a 2.5 percent rise in direct exportation and a 1.8%
rise in sales to the local market.