Gasoline prices gas tax 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
With public discontent steaming after a gas price hike earlier this week, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Thursday evening that he will receive a
list of alternatives to the gas tax at some point next week.
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announcement came amid a background of plans for public protests against the
rising fuel costs, and a day after the premier told MKs that he would work to
find a way to lower the prices.
Netanyahu met Thursday afternoon with his
top economic advisors – Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, National Economic
Council Head Prof. Eugene Kandel and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer –
as well as Prime Minister’s Office director-general Eyal Gabbai, to discuss the
price hike that brought gas prices to record levels of NIS 7.26 per
“The possible courses of action will be analyzed and then
presented to the prime minister in the course of next week,” said officials in
the Prime Minister’s Office at the conclusion of the meeting.
A number of
options have already been aired, including reducing the application of the
negative income tax or raising the value added tax, but both options have been
rejected as unfairly harming weaker sectors. Knesset Finance Committee Chairman
Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) threatened earlier this week that unless a
solution was found, he would oppose attempts by the government to offer
corporate tax cuts, the reduction of which could also help mitigate the billions
of shekels that the government might lose due to a reduction of fuel
Wednesday, during a speech on the Knesset floor defending his
government’s economic and security policies, Netanyahu told the Knesset that he
would consider alternatives to the high gas taxes.
“I will make a
decision and I will announce it to the public – it won’t take a lot of time,” he
Later, Channel 2 television reported that the premier was planning
on adopting a plan that would lower gas prices by 20 agurot per liter. The gas
companies and the government would split the costs of the cut, anticipated to
cost the state around NIS 4 billion in revenue, according to the
Meanwhile, social networking sites began to reverberate with
plans for protest. A Facebook page entitled “Let’s Bring the Ayalon to a Stop”
was circulated Thursday, receiving support from at least one opposition MK –
Nino Abesadze (Kadima). Organizers called on the public to report to the busy
Ayalon Freeway between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday morning, and to block
traffic at the Hashalom Interchange.
“People wake up! If we don’t flood
the Ayalon on Sunday, we won’t do anything in this country. The time has come to
act,” explained event organizer Ziv Dali, who said that he plans on coming to
the protest “on foot, to stop the cars and save a bit of gas.”