MK gives Netanyahu ‘expensive gift’: Cottage cheese

Forty MKs sign letter, prompting hours-long Knesset discussion of Netanyahu’s ‘diplomatic, economic and social failures.’

cottage cheese 311 R (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
cottage cheese 311 R
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Cottage cheese took center stage on Wednesday afternoon when a special discussion was held in the Knesset after 40 MKs signed a letter complaining about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “diplomatic, economic and social failures.”
MK Ronit Tirosh gave the prime minister a container of cottage cheese during the discussion, which lasted nearly three hours. Tirosh said it was a “gift,” because it has become such an expensive commodity.
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Complaints about the rising cost of cottage cheese, and calls to have the product’s price re-regulated were mentioned by many of the 17 lawmakers who spoke.
Coalition head Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) pointed out that the government stopped regulating cottage cheese prices under then-finance minister Avraham Hirchson, a Kadima member, in 2006, and accused the Knesset’s largest party of manufacturing controversy.
“Every day, I look at the newspaper’s headlines, and I know what you’ll complain about,” Elkin told the Kadima legislators present. “Here, you found an agenda for today: Cottage cheese!” MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) said, similarly, that Kadima lawmakers are “experts at gimmicks,” recalling the time they sprayed air fresheners in the plenum while saying that Netanyahu’s government “stinks.”
Orbach suggested that they be searched before entering the plenum, an idea that Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin rejected, citing parliamentary immunity.
The complaints about Netanyahu covered a wide range of topics, from social issues to the peace process.
MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) told the prime minister that he should help US President Barack Obama “take care of the hot potato” of vetoing a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood in the UN.
He said that Netanyahu is not doing his part in convincing the world to vote against the Palestinians in September.
“You refuse to give Obama something to hang on to,” Bar-On said.
MK Robert Ilatov of Israel Beiteinu said that the “tsunami of delegitimization” began before Netanyahu became prime minister, and therefore, the government should not shoulder all of the blame.
He also defended his party against claims of racism due to its bill to give those who served in the IDF or National Service preference in employment in the civil service.
“Arabs and other minorities can do National Service, too,” Ilatov said.
MKs Hanna Sweid (Hadash) and Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) complained about a lack of equality for Arabs.
“In a democracy, the minority should have the right to be different and equal,” Tibi said.
MK Eitan Cabel of Labor said that Netanyahu has a “strong coalition, but this is the weakest government on social matters that I can remember.” He mentioned cottage cheese prices, but also hikes in gas and housing rates.
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) lamented the influx of foreign migrants in south Tel Aviv, while Hadash’s MK Dov Henin criticized Netanyahu’s “stubborn, extremist worldview.”
MK Menahem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism) admitted that housing and food prices are high, but said that “it’s not fair that the prime minister has to sit here for hours” and listen to lawmakers complain about him when he has other, important, things to do. “Maybe the law [allowing 40 MKs to call a special Knesset session] should be changed,” Moses suggested.
Netanyahu addressed some of the criticisms in his rebuttal to the MKs, emphasizing the Iron Dome missile defense system and Israel’s cyberdefense efforts.
“Every developed state may be faced with a cyber attack,” the prime minister said. “We need to protect ourselves.”
There are many Israeli companies in the cyber-defense sector, which is a defense issue, but also a business opportunity, he said.
“Israel will be one of the top five cyber powers in the world. Leading countries want to cooperate with us in this sector of the future. We are making treaties with the world of tomorrow,” he said.
MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) broke in, calling Netanyahu the “prime minister of Google.”
Netanyahu then praised the Iron Dome missile defense system, citing its success in destroying seven missiles that were shot at the South from Gaza. He thanked former defense minister and current Labor MK Amir Peretz for initiating the Iron Dome project and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak for continuing it.
He also expressed gratitude to the US Congress and President Barack Obama for helping fund the defense system.