Trajtenberg oversees first meeting of 'Rothschild Team'

Committee head says social protests represent a longing for something real, called "social justice"; says there's "opportunity for change."

August 9, 2011 15:43
2 minute read.
Trajtenberg Committee 'Rothschild Team'

Trajtenberg Committee 'Rothschild Team' 311 . (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)


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The first meeting of the so-called "Rothschild Team" - a committee formed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to pinpoint and propose solutions to socioeconomic problems highlighted by growing protests - was held Tuesday afternoon, led by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, who said there is a real "opportunity for change."

At the beginning of the meeting, Trajtenberg said, "This wave of protest is expressing a longing for something real, called 'social justice.'" Change, he said, "depends on our ability to listen and to translate public sentiments and into the professional language of politics."

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The Trajtenberg Committee, according to the road map outlined by Netanyahu in the cabinet, will hold intensive discussion with “different groups and sectors within the public.”

The committee will then make proposals to the government’s 16-minister socioeconomic cabinet, headed by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

After this body hears the proposals, Netanyahu said on Sunday, “final recommendations will be formulated and submitted to me. I intend to submit the plan to the whole cabinet.

Netanyahu said the committee should focus on five areas: changing the country’s priorities to ease the economic burden on the population; changing the mix of tax payments; expanding access to social services; increasing competition to reduce prices; and implementing the housing plan the government has already launched.

Trajtenberg, currently the chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education in Israel, served in the past as the head of the National Economic Council, and as the prime minister’s chief economic adviser from 2006 to 2009.

He said he was taking on the new job with “mixed feelings,” both “excited” by the “rare opportunity to bring about genuine change,” and with a “deep awareness of the great responsibility that this task entails, given the expectations and the risks.”

Trajtenberg characterized the current protests as a “very strong, very impressive and unconventional process.” The protests expressed both “frustration, pain and disappointment” that a reasonable economic existence seemed a remote dream for young working families, and a “very tangible yearning, hope and longing for social justice,” he said.

“Pain on the one hand and longing on the other signify a great potential for a change for the better within Israeli society,” Trajtenberg said. “To a large extent, this depends on the ability to translate these genuine feelings from the language of protest into a language of deeper professional understanding, and eventually into the language of action, policy and implementation.

“The translator’s task is not easy. The dictionaries of the past will not help. They failed. We must find, we must perhaps invent the Rosetta Stone that will allow us to do the work.”

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report

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