PM: Housing crisis solutions must not bankrupt country

Netanyahu urges financial responsibility at weekly cabinet meeting: "If we face economic collapse...we will not solve economic or social problems."

Netanyahu cabinet meeting 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Netanyahu cabinet meeting 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged financial responsibility on the part of the government in the wake of social protests throughout the country. “If we face economic collapse... we will not solve economic or social problems,” he told the weekly cabinet meeting.
Israel needs responsible but sensitive solutions that will not bankrupt the country, when responding to the socioeconomic problems which have led to the wave of protests, Netanyahu said.
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The prime minister said that he has instructed Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, head of the new committee appointed to prepare socioeconomic reform recommendations “to submit concrete solutions during the month of September, as quickly as possible – but not too quickly.
“We are dealing here with complex issues. We intend to arrive at concrete solutions, not generalizations, but rather concrete solutions to concrete problems of reducing the cost of living and the closing of gaps in the State of Israel, gaps including those between the periphery and the center.”
During its first meeting last week, the Trajtenberg committee was broken down into subcommittees that are to address the following issues: taxes; competition and the high cost of living; social services; and housing.
Another subcommittee will deal with how much any new proposals will cost and where the money will come from, and another subcommittee will deal with how to conduct a dialogue with the public.
Netanyahu said on Sunday that he wants the committee to find “solutions that are economically sound.”
He warned against the danger that Israel could suffer the fate of some European countries that have been hit harshly by the global economic crisis.
“If we end up bankrupt or face economic collapse, a reality in which some of Europe’s leading economies find themselves in today, we will solve neither the economic problems nor the social ones.
“Therefore, responsibility is demanded of us, financial responsibility alongside social sensitivity. That is the necessary formula and we will bring about practical solutions,” he said.
On Sunday, protest leaders announced that they will hold a press conference on Monday morning in Tel Aviv, in which they will present their team of experts who will work to reach solutions to the social issues driving the social justice demonstrations.
The team will be made up of “experts of the highest caliber in Israel in the fields of economics, welfare and social issues, and will use their expertise to provide professional backing [to the protest movement].” The team will operate with full transparency and cooperation with the public and will hold meetings in the tent cities, the leaders said in a statement.
They added that the team’s findings will be used to “find ways for the Israeli economy to work for the benefit of Israeli society and not the opposite.”
Speakers at Monday’s press conference are to include former Bank of Israel deputy governor Avia Spivak; Adina Bar-Shalom, founder of the Haredi College of Jerusalem and daughter of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef; Education expert Prof.
Yossi Yonah from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; and Dr. Hala Espanioli, former head of the state monitoring committee for education in the Arab sector.
Also on Sunday, a spokesman for the Trajtenberg committee said that it will make its question and answer meetings with the public viewable online.
The meetings will be uploaded to the website of MK Michael Eitan (Likud), the improvement of government services minister, in about two weeks. The internal debates and meetings of the committee will not be available online, however.
Members of the 22-member committee visited tent cities in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Modi’in last week, where they took part in debates and sat in on lectures, without revealing that they were part of the committee.
The spokesman said they did so to gain insight into the concerns being aired at the tent cities.