PM exhorts Trajtenberg C'tee report at cabinet meeting

Netanyahu’s Likud rival Silvan Shalom and Independence’s Matan Vilna’i signal they may oppose socioeconomic report’s recommendations.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
October 9, 2011 11:28
3 minute read.
cabinet meeting

Netanyahu, Cabinet meeting_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continued on Sunday to voice his support for the report submitted by the Trajtenberg Committee for socioeconomic change, telling the weekly cabinet meeting that approval of the recommendations would allow the government to implement proposals for lowering the cost of living in Israel, Israel Radio reported.

The steps outlined in the report "will lower the prices of goods and marketing in the economy, will significantly lower parents' expenditures for education, will reduce customs duties and will make housing more available," Netanyahu said.

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"My government is committed to taking the necessary actions in order to ease living conditions for Israelis and to lower the cost of living – and I have no doubt that this will be the case. First the Cabinet, afterwards the Knesset," he continued.

Netanyahu brought the Trajtenberg Committee’s recommendations on sweeping socioeconomic change to the cabinet on Sunday, a week after he stepped back from calling for a vote because he lacked a majority among the ministers.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said on Sunday that he expected the Trajtenberg Committee report to pass a Cabinet vote despite his party's rejection of the recommendations.

Yishai said that even if the report passes a Cabinet vote, it will not receive majority backing in the Knesset unless fundamental changes are made in the Trajtenberg Committee recommendations that reflect the demands of the lower classes.

"The Treasury's fingerprints appear all over the report," Yishai said.

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Vice Premier Silvan Shalom (Likud) told Channel 2 News on Saturday night that “the government must first take care of the periphery and the weaker segments of society.

“If that is not in the report, I cannot support it,” Shalom said.

“The Independence Party does not accept the idea of social versus security,” Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said on Channel 2. “We cannot allow funds to be taken from the defense budget for social matters.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also voiced opposition to the report last week, saying on Israel Radio that “the Trajtenberg Committee’s recommendations were pointing in the right direction, [but] there’s no way to answer the protesters’ demands without expanding the budget.”

Israel Beiteinu has not committed to whether the party’s ministers will vote in favor or against the report.

A party source said that there must be a “serious, deep discussion” in the cabinet meeting before Israel Beiteinu can agree to Trajtenberg’s recommendations.

Party ministers plan to meet before the cabinet meeting to decide how they will vote.

The cost of implementation of the far-reaching recommendations – including free education from the age of three, rather than five, as is currently the case; marketing 200,000 housing units over the next five years; and raising individual taxes for the wealthy and for business – is expected to cost some NIS 30 billion over the next five years.

Last week Netanyahu backed off calling for a vote after facing opposition form Israel Beiteinu, Shas, Barak’s Independence party and three Likud ministers, – Shalom, Kahalon and Minister-without- Portfolio Yossi Peled.

Despite efforts last week to win over their support, Shas is still demanding a public discussion on the commission’s recommendations.

Independence doesn’t want to open up the defense budget from which much of the funding is to come, and Israel Beiteinu still wants a discussion on an alternate socioeconomic plan it has put together.

It is also not clear whether the three Likud ministers have been convinced to vote for the recommendations.

Gil Hoffman and Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.

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