(photo credit: Avi Hayoun)
Social Welfare Minister Moshe Kahlon said he opposed Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz’s economic austerity plan in Monday’s cabinet vote, because he could
not bear to vote for a plan that would harm the poorest sectors of the
Kahlon tried all day Monday to restore cuts that he said
would harm the elderly and the handicapped. When he failed, he told Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he would vote against Steinitz’s
“My heart didn’t let me vote in favor,” Kahlon said.
of people who live on not much more than 2,000 shekels a month and now they
won’t be able to buy fruit. These people need more, not less.”
Minister Eli Yishai, whose Shas party ministers voted against the plan, said he
would continue fighting to minimize the damage from the cuts. He blamed the
country’s economic problems on Steinitz’s lack of foresight.
Independence Party ministers voted against for complicated economic
Independence leader Ehud Barak said that rather than raise taxes
and cut cabinet ministries’ budgets, the Treasury should increase the national
debt or sell more bonds.
“A country, just like a family, cannot live
beyond its means,” Barak said. “When someone in a family needs help, families
dip into their personal savings and pay it back later. That is what a country
should do as well.”
Kadima on Monday submitted the 25 signatures of MKs
necessary to force a special summer Knesset session during the recess after the
government passed sweeping austerity reforms. The meeting will be held August
“The little guy will once again have to pay big time,” Kadima leader
Shaul Mofaz said. “The little guy cannot carry the weight of the bloated
government of Netanyahu on his back. The government scattered checks it could
not cover for three years and at the last minute is forcing the public to pay
for its irresponsible policies.
“The prime minister needs to ask himself
how he brought Israel to an unprecedented economic hole and he needs to explain
to the citizens why they have to pay the price.”
Labor head Shelly
Yechimovich slammed the government for approving the austerity measures, saying
the move would primarily hurt the middle class.
“Netanyahu’s cuts, which
were approved today by the government, are not the solution but part of the
problem,” she said. “A just and fair economy and society are the basis upon
which the state of Israel must be founded. But these concepts are
completely foreign to Netanyahu.”
Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On called the
cabinet’s decision “cruel.”
“Economic discussions held today by the
government were fixed and their results were predetermined,” she said.
“Government ministers, many of whom purportedly support the social justice
agenda, have betrayed themselves as the lackeys of Netanyahu and Steinitz.”