Candidates in Labor blast gov't’s social policies

Labor leadership contenders discuss cottage cheese protest, which Herzog says is representative of deep feeling of dissatisfaction by citizens.

311_ amir peretz (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
311_ amir peretz
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
Candidates in September’s Labor Party leadership election discussed the country’s socioeconomic condition, with food prices and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies taking center stage at the party’s central committee meeting on Sunday.
“The cottage cheese protest brings forward a deep feeling that citizens are not satisfied, because they see that services are becoming worse and family expenses are rising,” MK Isaac Herzog said, speaking at party headquarters in Beit Berl outside Kfar Saba. “The expiration date for nationalization – just like cottage cheese – hasn’t passed yet.”
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Former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna said that the party “will not be a partner of a government that privatizes social services and deregulates basic products,” such as dairy ones.
MK Shelly Yacimovich slammed the government’s economic policies, saying they hurt the weakest members of society.
“The current economic policy’s purpose is to shirk the state’s responsibility to its citizens in order to save on the responsibility’s cost,” Yacimovich said. “We can pity the elderly and the Holocaust survivor, compassion is a great emotion, but instead of just displaying pity over the results of these cruel economic policies, we need to change them in a deep, basic way.”
Another candidate, venture capitalist Erel Margalit, also criticized the prime minister’s economic policies.
“Netanyahu runs the economy like an accountant who’s trying to save money at the citizens’ expense,” Margalit said. “He doesn’t understand the new economy and the Israeli people’s strength – invention and innovation.
Netanyahu speaks English, but he doesn’t understand the new world and its spirit.”
Herzog also referred to the diplomatic speeches the prime minister gave while he was abroad recently, saying that he himself just returned from the US “very disturbed by what I saw – Netanyahu left scorched earth in Washington, and no one seems to be aware of it.
“There is a direct connection between foreign policy and economics,” Herzog said. “Solidarity in Israel is unraveling because of the many social processes we are going through, such as individualism.”
“I’m amazed at Likud Knesset members who say the Likud is a social party,” MK Amir Peretz said. “Because of Likud policies, we in the Labor Party have to fight to present a social vision. We not only need to stop the processes that the Likud has led, but to bring us back to where we were before all the damage was created.”
“Netanyahu was the engine that led the processes that brought us to where we are today,” Peretz said.
The meeting concluded with a decision to form a committee for economic affairs within Labor, which will be led by MK Avishai Braverman, who is not running for the party’s leadership.