Those who voted against were the four Shas ministers, two of the four Independence Party ministers – Ehud Barak and Matan Vilna’i – and Likud Ministers Silvan Shalom and Yossi Peled.
In the week since the cabinet first discussed the NIS 30 billion plan, Netanyahu managed to win over Likud Minister Moshe Kahlon and Israeli Beiteinu, providing the prime minister with a comfortable margin of victory.RELATED:Privatization has cost Israelis dear
In order to win over Israel Beiteinu, the Finance Ministry agreed to more than double grants for demobilized soldiers, build 4,000 public housing units for the elderly, and change the criteria for public housing to favor households where both parents work and one-parent families.
The Finance Ministry did not accept Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman’s request to require army service as a criterion for housing benefits.
Kahlon voted in favor after Netanyahu promised him additional funding for his Welfare and Social Services Ministry in a meeting on Friday at the prime minister’s weekend residence in Caesarea.
“I promised and I delivered,” Netanyahu said in a statement released after the vote. He said the report’s recommendations were “good for Israel’s citizens” because they lower the cost of living, decrease taxes and make housing more readily available.
Since much of the funding for the plan will be coming out of the defense budget – with NIS 6 billion expected to be trimmed from that budget over the next two years – a sharp debate took place inside the cabinet between Defense Minister Barak and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
Barak, arguing that too much money was being taken away from the defense budget, said “only in recent days did we mark the anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. And all of us still remember what happened in the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The government is not supposed to have such a short memory that it forgets what dramatic budget cuts that were not properly considered led to.”
Barak brought Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz to the meeting to back up his argument, and said that at a time when Israel was facing numerous threats, this was not the time for dramatic cuts.
At one point Steinitz said he was sure it was possible to cut from the defense budget and still provide sufficient answers for the country’s security needs, including the missile threat.
He noted the defense budget had been raised by NIS 112 billion, so it could afford to be cut.
Netanyahu said he studied carefully all the proposals, and was convinced they do not harm the country’s security.
“I can vouch for Israel’s security and I am responsible,” Netanyahu said. “It is possible to preserve the country’s security, even with this change.”
Shalom explained his “no” vote by calling the Trajtenberg recommendations “a missed opportunity to help the periphery and the weakest sectors.”
Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias, who voted against the plan because he said it did not address the problems of the country’s weakest sectors, said the different elements of the plan would have to be voted on again by the cabinet individually. Then the plan will go to the Knesset, where it will also face stiff opposition.
“The Trajtenberg recommendations will not pass in the Knesset unless the changes we are demanding will be made,” Shas chairman Eli Yishai said.