Gasoline prices gas tax 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Social rights groups working with the country’s poorest populations reacted
angrily over the weekend to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance
Minister Yuval Steinitz’s plans to address the rising costs of basic commodities
and attempts to avert an all-out general strike in both the public and private
RELATED:PM offers package of benefits to stave off strikeSteinitz might boycott Likud meeting on price increases
At a press conference Thursday evening, Netanyahu and Steinitz
announced that the government would move forward with plans to raise the minimum
wage and roll back recent increases in water, public transportation and gasoline
However, a handful of NGOs criticized the measures saying they
did not go far enough to help the country’s poor and middle class.
is another example of how Prime Minister Netanyahu did not read the political
landscape and forgot that people come before profits,” a conglomerate of rights
groups wrote in a statement entitled “The battle is only just
According to the organizations, which included Shatil, the
social rights branch of the New Israel Fund; the Israel Center for Social
Justice; and the Social-Economic Academy, a non-profit that discusses various
economic, social and environmental issues, the steps announced by the government
“would not resolve the heavy financial burdens placed on the lower and middle
class populations,” which have faced increasing costs in housing and education,
as well as a sharp rise in the costs of basic necessities over the past few
“Reducing the cost of public transport, lowering water prices and
the tax on fuel are positive steps but they are just the tip of the iceberg of
problems in the Israeli economy,” wrote the groups.
The prime minister,
they maintained, did not address the rise in costs of child day care, basic
produce and housing, which has increased by some 30 percent in the last two
“The public is not stupid and they know that what he claims to
refund in one pocket, he will take out of another pocket,” wrote the
organizations referring to the intention of the government to make a 2% budget
cut across the board to all ministries.
“At the end of the day, citizens
will receive even less while they continue to pay more.”
organizations said they will hold a one-day symposium on Monday in order to
examine the situation and plan a course of action that could involve public
protests over deteriorating economic conditions.
Weintraub, Director of the non-profit humanitarian aid organization Latet, which
supplies basic goods to more than 100 food aid charities country-wide, also
attacked the Prime Minister’s proposal calling it a “superficial public debate
around these price increases.
“All the moves of Prime Minister Netanyahu,
are within the rich, neo-economic policy framework and his consistent capitalist
policies only serve to display his disregard for more than two million people
who are in need in this country,” Weintraub said, adding that Latet would
continue to demand that the government creates an emergency plan to reduce
poverty and show a commitment to stay in line with the policies of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which Israel joined last
year, and work to combat poverty over the next decade.
A consortium of
organizations and youth movements held demonstrations at 47 major intersections
from Kiryat Shmona to Mitzpe Ramon on Friday in protest of the recent price
increases. Not appeased by the government’s measures announced on Thursday, the
consortium which calls itself the ‘Five M’s’ issued a statement in which it said
“we will not allow the government and the Treasury to exchange whips for
scorpions – we will not allow there to be an across the board cut of 2% to
education, health and welfare.”
The consortium’s name recalls Revisionist
philosopher Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s list of the five services that a government is
obliged to provide its citizens – housing, clothing, food, education and
medicine – a jab at Netanyahu, whose ideological background lies in the
Revisionist movement.Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.