PM to present ministerial team in wake of massive rallies
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was expected to present his ministerial team tasked with addressing demands of social justice and housing protesters, just hours after the latest protest that drew over 300,000 into the streets across the country.
Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Eyal Gabbai told Israel Radio Sunday morning that the group would present its recommendations to the government within a month.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting last week, Netanyahu said the roundtable would invite to appear before it representatives of various different sectors. The ministers will then recommend practical plans to ease the economic situation of the country’s citizens, and bring these plans to the cabinet for approval.
“We need to act seriously and responsibly in order to create changes in the [economic priorities] and to deal with the genuine distress,” Netanyahu said. He added that he and other cabinet members are “aware of the genuine hardship of the cost of living in Israel.”
Speaking to Israel Radio Friday, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, named by a Netanyahu spokesman as a likely member of the cabinet troubleshooting team, said a solution was required even if it “cost billions” at a time when Israel was watching the debt jitters of the United States and parts of Europe.
Kahlon floated tax cuts and a breakup of cartels to benefit the middle class.
“If anything, this demonstration is a demonstration of trust in Netanyahu – though that may sound upside-down: ‘Sir, we demand of you, we insist, you know how to, you are capable of fixing this,’” Kahlon said, noting the lack of support for the centrist political opposition.
But he faulted Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for trumpeting Israel’s macroeconomic indicators.
“On the one hand we say we have a strong economy, on the other hand large groups of people are seeing that it is not reaching them. Hence the frustration and the outcry,” he said.
Last week social protest leaders rejected Netanyahu’s ministerial roundtable initiative.
Speaking at a press conference with Israeli media, organizers said that dialogue should be carried out “transparently” with the prime minister himself and not “a ministerial assembly.”
It is indeed ironic that this could be seen as support for Netanyahu. It’s generally acknowledged that he and Fischer are economic experts. The protesters are demanding economic innovation. Yet the best ideas could come from the protesters themselves. And the government knows this. Step one in solving the problem could be setting up a communications network—a direct line between the government and the populace. In a sense it would be like the Israeli government setting up a Facebook page with 8 million friends.