Trajtenberg: Economic woes 'deeper than we thought'

Last summer's mass protest movement signaled that issue of inequality is urgent, may threaten the country's security.

Prof. Trajtenberg hands recommendations to PM Netanyahu [file] (photo credit: GPO)
Prof. Trajtenberg hands recommendations to PM Netanyahu [file]
(photo credit: GPO)
Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, who headed the committee for socioeconomic change, said Thursday said that last summer's mass social protests hinted that economic inequities and hardships in the country are "deeper than we thought," but expressed satisfaction with government progress on the issue.
Speaking to JPost TV during a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Trajtenberg warned that a prevalent sense of economic injustice may prove detrimental to the younger generation's willingness to serve and defend the country.
"Young people in Israel feel that they cannot really make a living the way the expectations were set up. They feel a feeling of injustice and alienation. Those feelings are very detrimental to the willingness to serve and partake in their defense," Trajtenberg told JPost TV.
He also said that last summer's social protests, the largest of which attracted at least 400,000 participants from across the country, attested to the "urgency" of the problem of injustice in the country.
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"The protest hinted that the problem is deeper than we thought. The urgency of turning Israel into a more just, equal society is even more legitimate," Trajtenberg said.
"We need a state that is more economically and socially just. Where the public can feel that the fate of the state is important to them, that they want to have an impact on it, not that it will be decided without them," he said during his speech at the conference.
Last summer grassroots efforts created one of Israel's largest protest campaigns, including a tent city which occupied central locations in most major cities throughout the country for the duration of the summer. The unofficial headquarters in Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard became a meeting place for activists and attracted supporters and media attention from across the country.
The committee for socioeconomic change - a government mandated group of economic experts tasked to examine the issues brought up by the movement - submitted an in depth report to the Knesset that was approved in October. That report made economic recommendations across the board, including tax reform and a two-stage removal of import duties.
While some organizers of the social-justice movement, including figurehead Daphni Leef, 26, said the report was an inadequate solution to public's demands, Trajtenberg himself expressed satisfaction with the government's approval and planned implementation of committee recommendations.
Speaking about tax reform based on the committee's report, Trajtenberg said "Those changes...can change distribution of income for the better; make it more progressive."
The government will discuss the rest of the committee's recommendations within the next three weeks, Trajtenberg said. The report will soon be drafted as a bill, which will then be presented before the Knesset.