Trajtenberg Committee report to go to cabinet, again

Netanyahu’s Likud rival Silvan Shalom and Independence’s Matan Vilna’i signal they may oppose report’s recommendations.

PM Netanyahu with Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg 311 (R) (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
PM Netanyahu with Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg 311 (R)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will bring the Trajtenberg Committee’s recommendations on sweeping socioeconomic change to the cabinet on Sunday, a week after he stepped back from calling for a vote because he lacked a majority among the ministers.
It was not clear whether this time, either, Netanyahu would bring the recommendations on the measures to a vote after the cabinet discussion. A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said it was obvious Netanyahu wanted to see the report passed and implemented, but the “mechanics of the process” were not yet clear.
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Vice Premier Silvan Shalom (Likud) told Channel 2 News on Saturday night that “the government must first take care of the periphery and the weaker segments of society.
“If that is not in the report, I cannot support it,” Shalom said.
“The Independence Party does not accept the idea of social versus security,” Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said on Channel 2. “We cannot allow funds to be taken from the defense budget for social matters.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also voiced opposition to the report last week, saying on Israel Radio that “the Trajtenberg Committee’s recommendations were pointing in the right direction, [but] there’s no way to answer the protesters’ demands without expanding the budget.”
Israel Beiteinu has not committed to whether the party’s ministers will vote in favor or against the report.
A party source said that there must be a “serious, deep discussion” in the cabinet meeting before Israel Beiteinu can agree to Trajtenberg’s recommendations.
Party ministers plan to meet before the cabinet meeting to decide how they will vote.
The cost of implementation of the far-reaching recommendations – including free education from the age of three, rather than five, as is currently the case; marketing 200,000 housing units over the next five years; and raising individual taxes for the wealthy and for business – is expected to cost some NIS 30 billion over the next five years.
Last week Netanyahu backed off calling for a vote after facing opposition form Israel Beiteinu, Shas, Barak’s Independence party and three Likud ministers, – Shalom, Kahalon and Minister-without- Portfolio Yossi Peled.
Despite efforts last week to win over their support, Shas is still demanding a public discussion on the commission’s recommendations.
Independence doesn’t want to open up the defense budget from which much of the funding is to come, and Israel Beiteinu still wants a discussion on an alternate socioeconomic plan it has put together.
It is also not clear whether the three Likud ministers have been convinced to vote for the recommendations.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.