Binyamin Netanyahu 521.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Domestic economic issues trumped diplomacy on Monday, with Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – in a rare move -- announcing he was
postponing a trip to Poland Wednesday to deal with the housing crisis.
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statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said Netanyahu pushed
off his trip to Warsaw to "remain in the country and focus on passing
legislation having to do with housing reform, and other steps for
students, demobilized soldiers and young couples."
had originally planned to go to both Poland and Hungary, but canceled
the Hungary leg of the trip because of "logistical problems." One of the
purposes of the planned trip was to continue lobbying EU countries
against supporting a Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in
Earlier Monday, Netanyahu praised party members
for passing housing reform legislation in a joint session of the Knesset
Economics and Interior Committees, speaking at a Likud faction meeting
the entire faction for helping find solutions, he singled out Finance
Minister Yuval Steinitz, who he said, "always carries the weight of the
The results of Steinitz's work prove it, Netanyahu said, pointing to
economic growth and "possibly the lowest unemployment in the nation's
history." Addressing the finance minister, Netanyahu added, "Yuval, you
have an important part in the economy doing so well. All objective
people can see you're doing well."
Being finance minister, he said, "is a difficult job." When the job is done well, however, "you see the results."
Steinitz also addressed the housing crisis on Monday, saying "I haven't forgotten about the people."
While touting the recent overall growth in the Israeli economy and a
reduction in unemployment, Steinitz admitted that "there is a real
housing crisis" and noted that Israelis are having trouble paying their
bills at the end of the month, in an interview with Channel 2.
"The problem is nationwide," the finance minister said, "People are
living in garages and basements ... and they can't pay their rent."
Previewing some of the measures the government plans to present in the
Knesset on Tuesday, Steinitz said, "We will present meaningful steps for
students. We plan on building thousands of apartments for students."
"These [won't just] be cheap apartments for students but will also allow
[the students] to leave their current apartments, opening them up for
other people." The finance minister added that access to public
transportation would be a part of the plan.