Full Text Israel Political Brief October 14, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks After Israeli Cabinet Approves Holding Elections for the 19th Knesset on 22 January 2013



Cabinet Approves Holding Elections for the 19th Knesset on 22 January 2013

Source: PMO, 10-14-12

The Cabinet, today, unanimously approved the proposal to hold elections for the 19th Knesset on 22 January 2013.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Even during the three month election period, we will continue to act responsibly in order to safeguard the economy and, most importantly, to maintain Israelis’ jobs and even add to them.”


Full Text Israel Political Brief September 9, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Cabinet Meeting & Rosh Hashanah Greetings



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 9-9-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

“First of all, a Happy Rosh Hashanah [Jewish New Year] to you all. There is an apple and honey here. Let us offer to our friends from the media to take part in this beautiful custom.

I would like to congratulate Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for taking a daring and moral step and showing leadership on Friday, and thereby sending a principled and important message to the entire world, that the dark regime cannot have nuclear weapons. I call on the entire international community, or at least on its responsible members, to follow in Canada’s determined path and set Iran moral and practical red lines, lines that will stop its race to achieve nuclear weapons.

Today, the Cabinet will discuss the issue of turning the Ariel University Center into a university. I reiterate that Ariel is an inseparable part of the State of Israel and it will remain an inseparable part of the State of Israel in any future agreement just like the other settlement blocs. Approving the university in Ariel is one of a series of actions that we are taking in order to strengthen higher education in the State of Israel.  I do not think that it is sufficient that the State of Israel has seven universities; another university has not been added in decades. The population of Israel has doubled, even tripled. There is a strong desire on the part of young people in Israel to receive a university education, and I do not accept the approach of keeping a closed guild. I love to break monopolies and cartels in every field, and this one of them. If anyone has any doubt about whether or not I have a clear position on this issue, I would like to express it here. It is important that there be an additional university in Israel; it is important that there be a university in Ariel.

Last night I spoke with Noam Gershony who won a gold medal at the Paralympics. Noam encapsulates the image of the State of Israel and its story. He represents the victory of the spirit over all obstacles and I think that his personal story strongly expresses this. Noam was wounded in battle for the State of Israel. Yesterday he won a medal, a gold medal, on behalf of the State of Israel. He did not see this as just his own personal achievement, he saw it as a personal achievement for all of us, and he moved all of us when he wept to the national anthem. On behalf of the Government and the citizens of Israel, I salute you Noam Gershony.

This is the last Cabinet meeting of the outgoing year and this is the fourth time that The Cabinet is marking the start of a new year – this being an unusual event in and of itself over past decades. It broadcasts government stability, which is very important for the State of Israel at all times, but especially now. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the outgoing year was full of activity and this is my opportunity to thank the ministers for their great work on behalf of the people of the State of Israel.

We did many things together and if I were to now detail the Government’s actions, those which it carried out and those which it approved, I would need many hours. Therefore, I have chosen to point out one event per [Hebrew] month in order to note the progress of the State of Israel over the past year.

And so, in Tishrei, the Cabinet approved the agreement to bring Gilad Shalit back home after over five years in captivity.

In Cheshvan, we dedicated the new medical school in Safed, after 37 years in which no new medical school had been dedicated in Israel.  We thereby marked a turning point, not only in medicine, but in jumpstarting the Galilee and Safed. By the way, Israel is ranked sixth in the world on the Global Health Index, which was issued recently.

In Kislev, we approved the comprehensive plan to deal with infiltrators, the results of which are already being seen in the field.

In Tevet, tax benefits – that we approved – took effect for working parents and young children – representing a net addition of hundreds of shekels per month to salaries.

In Shevat, we approved the construction of a rail line to Eilat as part of the Government’s plan to invest billions of shekels in infrastructures, highways, railways and interchanges.

In Adar, I traveled to the AIPAC conference in the US to continue explaining and emphasizing the dangers posed to the world by Iran’s arming itself with nuclear weapons. Since then, all of our predictions have come true, one after the other.

In Nisan, the Bank of Israel determined that the Israeli economy grew by 4.7% in the previous year, an impressive achievement given the global economic crisis. I see the difficulties that are yet before us, but I think that if we continue to manage the economy in a responsible manner, we will continue to be above the other economies. By the way, in the same month, Israelis were ranked fourth on the global happiness index.

In Iyar, thanks to the reform we approved, new operators entered the cellular telephone market and prices of cellular calls nosedived, leading to a savings of hundreds of shekels a month for each family.

In Sivan, we expanded free dental care to include children up to age 12. As of the present, over two million free dental treatments have been given to children. This is a very significant achievement.

In Tammuz, we launched an international campaign on Israeli innovations in protecting the environment.  This was mainly abroad; it wasn’t seen so much in Israel.  But via this campaign we showed the world our breakthrough technologies in the field of environmental protection.

In Av, we completed the construction of over 200 kilometers of the southern security fence and we brought about a 90% decline in the number of infiltrators crossing the border. Soon we will complete the fence in its entirety.

And in [the current month of] Elul, we opened the school year in grand fashion – free education for children from age 3, a savings of NIS 800 per month for hundreds of thousands of parents.

I have not pointed out all of the things that the Government has done, but I think the things I have mentioned reflect the scope of a great achievement. This was a year in which we strengthened the security of the citizens of Israel in the face of the regional unrest around us and in which we kept our economy safe from the collapses that characterized other economies, and I am certain, and I promise, that in the coming year we will continue to achieve results for the citizens of the State of Israel.

Again, a Happy Rosh Hashanah to you all.

May it be a sweet year, a year of achievements, a good year.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 15, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Cabinet Meeting on the Defense Budget



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Cabinet Meeting on the Defense Budget

Source: PMO, 8-15-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting today on the defense budget:

“Today, we are starting a discussion the likes of which, until today, have not been held in a forum of Israeli Government ministers, certainly not in the overall forum of the Cabinet plenum. At the end of this discussion, we will be asked to decide not only on how much money to invest in defense but where to invest the money within the defense establishment.

This is discussion concerns not only priorities between the defense budget and other ministries represented here.

This is a discussion about the priorities within the defense budget, not down to the last penny, not within each individual section, but about the main questions regarding building the force related to the multi-year plan, for the next five years, perhaps the next decade.

We will make complicated decisions about the size of the budget and the channeling of the budget to the main components of the force. This is a complex and serious discussion. I doubt that we will finish it today but we must finish it in order to move forward on the 2013 budget, to chart a path to the 2013 defense budget, to chart a path to the defense budget for the next five years, with consequences for the next decade. Therefore, we must also respond to the historic changes that are taking place around us.

We must be ready for the changing threats that are being directed at the State of Israel. We must see to it that the security which Israelis have enjoyed over past three-and-a-half years continues under the changing conditions. Around the Cabinet table, we will listen to the professional elements and we will decide according to the defense concept that fits these changes.

This is a unique discussion. It usually takes place once every five years in a smaller forum and it may be that at a certain stage we will decide to reduce this forum, but I would like all ministers, to the best of our abilities, be party to the decisions that I think will greatly determine the Government’s budget for the State of Israel. This is a necessary condition to pass the 2013 state budget. This is, first of all, because it is necessary to finish with the defense budget; it is always like this. This is a necessary condition for wise decisions regarding the defense budget and the multi-year plan. There is a second condition without which we cannot submit the budget and that is to maintain economic responsibility.

We have gone through a decade of scrupulously maintaining the budgetary framework and our ability to do so has guarded the Israeli economy from the global crisis, until now with exemplary success. This is also how we acted over the past three years and we intend to act this way now as well.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 12, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Defense & Israeli-China Relations



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 8-12-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today :

“At the start of my remarks, I would like – on behalf of the entire Government – to take leave of Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, who will conclude his duties this week and leave next week for his new post as Israel’s Ambassador to China. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Matan, for your contribution to the State of Israel, to the security of Israel, over the years, from when you were a private until you attained the rank of major-general and afterwards in the framework of the government, including your preset post.

I will wax nostalgic for a moment and tell our friends here that we were together as young officers in the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, and we would travel together on weekend leaves to Jerusalem. We are Jerusalemites. Our parents were close friends, your father, the late Zeev Vilnai, who researched the Land of Israel, along with my father and your late mother Esther, and my mother. We would meet in our homes. We spoke many times and got to know each other, and I knew you as a man of values, a true Israeli patriot, and also a man who had the great privilege to be a fighter and a commander. Then, let us speak frankly, you had more hair and I was thinner. You stayed thin. You stayed and many things changed and, of course, many things have changed, including – inter alia – the responsibilities that the State of Israel has placed on your shoulders, and you took some of them upon your shoulders, and now you will continue to contribute.

You will continue to contribute to our very important relations with China. They are of decisive economic and international significance. I think that you will have very important tasks there. I am convinced that, as I wish you well ahead of your next contribution, I do so not just on behalf of the ministers in the Government of Israel, but on behalf of all Israelis. Who but you, Matan, knows that, over the years, Israeli governments did not invest enough in home front defense. The missile era began in 1991, during the First Gulf War. There are those who say that it began even earlier.

I think that there has been a very great change during our Government’s term in office. First of all, we established a separate ministry to deal with this issue. Second, you and I and the other relevant ministers hold bi-weekly meetings, along with the National Security Adviser, and monitor the necessary steps o upgrade home front defense. We are investing billions in home front defense, in Iron Dome, in the Arrow, and in other systems that are under development. We are investing a lot of money in defending facilities, institutions and homes. We are holding preparedness exercises for various scenarios regarding home front defense; such an exercise is being held today. We are thoroughly upgrading our warning systems, in which Israel is among the most developed in the world and we are doing other things which I shall not detail here. Therefore, I would like, in my farewell remarks, to say that I esteem you Matan for the important work that you have done in this field, as in others. But you leave behind much work for your replacement and I intend to appoint a replacement in the coming days because I ascribe great importance to the post and want there to be continuity, and not a disruption, in dealing with this important area.

There has been a significant improvement in our home front defense capabilities, in Iron Dome, in the Arrow, in structural reinforcements and shelters, in warnings and in other areas. One cannot say that there are no problems in this field because there always are, but all of the threats that are currently being directed against the Israeli home front pale against a particular threat, different in scope, different in substance, and therefore I reiterate that Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.

In this context, I spoke with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon over the weekend. According to reports that have reached me, the UN Secy.-Gen. intends to travel to a conference of non-aligned countries in Tehran. I told him that with all his good intentions, he must not give legitimacy to a regime that disseminates horrific anti-Semitism, the likes of which we have not seen in several decades, since World War II, and to a regime that declares its intention to destroy the State of Israel, that violates all UN decisions, not just against its nuclear program, but against the convention against genocide as well. I told him that his place is not in Tehran. He did not give me to understand that he would change his plans, but we will continue to press, and I think that we will also continue to make clear the absurdity of the UN giving legitimacy to a state that violates all UN rules and intends to destroy another UN member state. I think that this effort is a worthy and important step alongside our other efforts in this field.

I would like to express appreciation for the work of the fire and rescue service against the wave of fires, including those which were deliberately set. Not always, but many times there is a suspicion of arson and I would like to bring it to your attention that we are dealing with this effectively because we upgraded the fire and rescue service. First and foremost, we brought firefighting aircraft. This has enabled us, since the Carmel wildfire, to extinguish approximately 250 fires, including forest fires, wildfires that were extinguished successfully thanks to this upgrade in the air and on the ground. I would like to express appreciation for the firefighters and to those ministers who assisted this same upgrade, in financing and organizing, which has seen results in over 2,000 sorties as of today.

Lastly, this week we will hold an additional Cabinet meeting in order to begin discussing the multi-year plan for not only the defense budget but also the question of our preparations for the defense establishment multi-year plan. This is a necessary condition for integrating decisions in this area with decisions on the budget that will be integrated later. We will also need to decide on both of these, on the yearly and multi-year defense budget and also on our budget for next year.

Thank you.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief July 15, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting Discussing African Infiltrators



Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

“I spoke a short while ago with Be’er Sheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich. He was very, very excited because today we are dedicating the high-speed rail link, and now it will be 55 minutes from Be’er Sheva to Tel Aviv and from Tel Aviv to Be’er Sheva. This is down from 76 minutes and we will yet lower it to 45 minutes.

This is a revolution that we always dreamed about. We are carrying it out. It seems to me that this idea started when Silvan Shalom was Finance Minister and I am proud of the fact that we in this Government, with our energetic Transportation Minister, are realizing this, with support from the Finance Ministry. This is huge. At the same time, today we will also dedicate the high-speed line from Kiryat Gat to Tel Aviv – 32 minutes. I remind you that this takes much longer than most US and European cities, from the large cities – to go from the city center to the outskirts, than it takes today to go from central Tel Aviv to Kiryat Gat, and even to Be’er Sheva. This is a great cultural, social and national revolution that has to do with population dispersal, creating new possibilities and growth – I think that we can definitely be proud here that we are finally joining the periphery to the center, and the center to the periphery, and this has tremendous consequences, and therefore we are pleased to see the fruit of Government policy.”

Pursuant to the report that 12 infiltrators were detained over the weekend, 64 last week and 183 since the beginning of the month, the Prime Minister said:

“To compare, 1,000 infiltrators crossed last month. In May, there were 2,000. I remind you that all those who reached the border did not reach the border, sit there and wait for a ride to Tel Aviv or other localities in the State of Israel. This is not what happened. They came and were taken immediately to detention, and we have increased the number of holding places, we increased them thanks to vigorous Government action.

At the same time, this week we will complete the 200th kilometer of the fence. It will take us another few months to complete the 20 additional kilometers in the mountainous areas around Eilat and in the central part of the border with Egypt, and we are applying, I would say, great conscious pressure in Africa to explain to infiltrators that the rules of the game have changed.

Additionally, on my instructions, at the more or less weekly meeting that I hold on the issue of infiltrators – we are going to apply very great pressure on employers, first of all, via the tax authorities, so that they know that there are no free lunches here, and we have also advanced draft legislation to impose much sharper punishments on the employers. The infiltrators come here because they want work. As soon as they know that there is no work here, they will not come, and we still have much to do, and we are working in many areas, some of which I have not mentioned, but there is no doubt that regarding everything we have to do – we are changing the trend, and Israel is headed in the right direction in regard to dealing with a fundamental problem that threatens its Jewish and democratic character.”


Israel Political Brief June 24, 2012: Rockets Still Falling on Southern Israel Despite Egypt Brokered Truce with Gazan Terrorist Groups



Despite truce, rockets still falling on Israel

Source: JTA, 6-24-12

Rockets continued to fall on southern Israel despite a truce with Gazan terrorist groups.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted five rockets fired at Ashkelon shortly after the truce, which was mediated by Egypt, went into effect at 8 p.m. Sunday. Several rockets also hit southern Israel on Sunday.

An Israeli man, 50, was seriously injured by shrapnel when a rocket exploded near a factory in Sderot.  A school in Sderot also was damaged by rocket fire.

Israel struck several targets in Gaza over the weekend, according to the Israeli military, including a terror cell about to detonate a rocket. Hamas reported that at least three Palestinians were killed in retaliatory attacks over the weekend, including a child and a terrorist.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of the regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting on Sunday said “the IDF is taking strong action against those who are attacking us and it will take even stronger action if need be. Our policy is to use force in order to restore security and quiet to the residents of the south.”

At least 150 rockets fired from Gaza have struck southern Israel since the cross-border attacks began last week, the Israel Defense Forces reported.


Full Text Israel Political Brief June 24, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Gaza Rocket Attacks & African Migrant Deportations



Source: PMO, 6-24-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting today:

Regarding events in the south, the IDF is taking strong action against those who are attacking us and it will take even stronger action if need be. Our policy is to use force in order to restore security and quiet to the residents of the south.

Tomorrow, another plane will leave for South Sudan. Two additional planes will leave next week. I note that in the wake of our decision a few weeks ago, any infiltrator who sits on the border and waits for a bus to take him to Tel Aviv will now be taken to years of detention.  This is already making itself felt.

At the same time, we are completing 190 kilometers of fence this week. The section around Eilat, which we thought would take more time, is being built quickly. Therefore, the combination of these things, including fines and punishments for those who employ illegal infiltrators, I think has begun to reverse the trend, and we will solve this problem.

Thank you.”

Israel Political Brief June 10, 2012: PM Israel Political Brief June 10, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Accuses Iran, Hezbollah involved in Syrian ‘slaughter’



Iran, Hezbollah involved in Syrian ‘slaughter,’ Netanyahu charges

Source: JTA, 6-10-12

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran and Hezbollah of being involved in the “slaughter” of civilians in Syria. “We [see] what is happening in Syria where civilians are simply being slaughtered,” Netanyahu said during Sunday’s regular Cabinet meeting. “We see the horrifying pictures of children and the elderly. This is a slaughter that is being perpetrated not only by the Syrian government. Iran and Hezbollah are helping it, and today the world needs to see this axis of evil: Iran-Syria-Hezbollah — the face of this axis of evil is fully revealed for what it is.”…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 4, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Increase in Fuel / Gas Prices



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Increase in Fuel Prices

Source: PMO, 4-4-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the Cabinet meeting today:

“The Government does not control fuel prices.  Even the major powers do not control fuel prices and therefore, this is a fluctuating global market.  The State of Israel has no real possibility of controlling the direction – upward or downward – of fuel prices.

However, we have witnessed a constant upward movement in the past year as a result of the sanctions on Iran and other factors.  We are trying to moderate the increases in order to make things easier for citizens.  We are capable of doing so partially and cannot do so fully, but we have decided to do so several times in recent months.  But, as usual, this is not a free lunch and, therefore, from a budgetary perspective, we need to cover the gap that results from lowering prices.  In consultation with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, the personnel at his ministry have formulated a proposal to increase efficiency at Government ministries without harming their work.

I know that there is much to be done in boosting efficiency without harming public service.  The current Government has made impressive achievements in its first three years.  The public at large is beginning to appreciate our achievements and everyone understands that they are partly due to the team work among each and every minister seated at this table.  We have worked together very impressively up until now and here as well, on the issue of greater efficiency in personnel, teamwork is necessary so that Israelis may enjoy lower fuel prices in order to travel around the country over the Passover holiday, on pleasant highways, to the parks and reserves.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 1, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks / Speech at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting Discusses the Economy



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Photo by GPO

Source: PMO, 4-1-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting today:

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Today exactly, we will start the Government’s fourth year in office.  This is the most stable Government in the last 20 years and it is a Government that gets things done, a lot of things.

Israelis feel safer thanks to the Government’s vigorous security policy.  They feel safer thanks to the major budgets we are investing in home front protection, with emphasis on the purchase of Iron Dome batteries.  Additionally, there is the security fence along the Sinai border and other actions we are undertaking to increase security.

Israelis also feel that the economy is more stable and secure.  We have fared very well in the face of the global economic crisis.  The economy here is growing despite the global crisis, and unemployment is at its lowest since 1983.

There is nothing more social than an economic policy that creates jobs.  Jobs are the most social thing there is and only someone who goes to the welfare office and has no income and no self-image before his family knows the effect of major unemployment.

Growth has allowed the Government to invest in all areas – highways, railways and interchanges.  We are investing great sums in order to draw the Galilee and the Negev closer to the center of the country.  We are carrying out unprecedented revolutions in education – from pre-school up to the NIS 7 billion we are investing in rehabilitating and advancing higher education.  We are doing all of this in order to invest in the future.  But today, the future is here – here behind me.

Today, five young people from the many hundreds who contacted me on Facebook – Hila, Roi, Sari, Yuval and Nestia – are here behind me.  In a few moments, they will present us with their suggestions for legislation.  This is your first visit to the Government?”

Children: “Yes.”

Prime Minister: “Are you excited?”

Children: “Yes.”

Prime Minister: “The ministers are also excited on their first visit but it passes, it passes.

We want to hear what interests the younger generation.  But before that, I would like to comment on the price of gasoline.  Last night, I decided – along with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz – on a reduction in the price of gasoline that has been set by the global market.  For the fourth time within a year, we lowered taxes on gasoline by the cumulative amount of NIS 0.80.  I must point out that today, taxes on gasoline in Israel are smaller than in many European countries.

I would like to make it clear – we do not control world gasoline prices.  The price of gasoline is rising all over the world, in all countries.  What we can do is to try and ease the burden on citizens in a responsible and measured way, and this is what we are doing.  However, we are constantly maintaining the budgetary framework.  Therefore, later this week, I will submit to the Cabinet a proposal formulated by Finance Minister Steinitz to deal with maintaining the framework.  Whoever says that it is possible to lower taxes and broaden expenditures without making an account lacks economic knowledge and is irresponsible.

We need the taxes in order to purchase additional Iron Dome batteries, in order to complete work on the fence, in order to finance free education for children, in order to pave highways and build railways, in order to help the elderly and the needy.  By the way, in the past two years – for the first time in many years – the poverty index has begun to decline.  The number of poor people in the State of Israel dropped for the first time in years because we have invested in the elderly and have encouraged the ultra-orthodox and Arabs to join the work force.  For the first time, the clock is turning.

I am saying all of this because we must tell it like it is.  I commend Finance Minister Steinitz and the Finance Ministry for their responsible conduct and because this time as well the budget for financing the tax reduction will be taken from a process of enacting greater efficiency in the Government.  This time as well, we will not break the budgetary framework and thus we will maintain the Israeli economy in the face of the global crisis.  And now I would like to hear from the children.

Thank you all.”

דברי ראש הממשלה בפתח ישיבת הממשלה

יום ראשון ט’ ניסן תשע”ב

שלום לכולכם, וגם לכם ידידיי הצעירים, שלום לכם.

היום בדיוק אנחנו מתחילים את השנה הרביעית לכהונתה של הממשלה ולפעולתה של הממשלה. זו הממשלה היציבה ביותר ב-20 השנים האחרונות וזו ממשלה שעושה. הרבה.

אזרחי ישראל מרגישים בטוחים יותר בזכות המדיניות הביטחונית התקיפה של הממשלה. הם מרגישים בטוחים יותר בזכות תקציבי עתק שאנחנו משקיעים למיגון העורף, בדגש על רכישת סוללות ‘כיפת ברזל’. בנוסף לזה, פריסת הגדר, גדר הביטחון בגבול סיני, ופעולות אחרות שאנחנו עושים כדי להגדיל את הביטחון.

אזרחי ישראל מרגישים גם שכלכלת ישראל יציבה יותר, בטוחה יותר, כמעט – ואני לא בטוח שהייתי מוסיף את המילים ‘כמעט’ – מכל כלכלות העולם המפותח. אנחנו פעלנו היטב אל מול המשבר הכלכלי העולמי. הכלכלה כאן צומחת למרות המשבר העולמי והאבטלה נמצאת בשיעור הנמוך ביותר מאז שנת 1983.

אין דבר יותר חברתי ממדיניות כלכלית שמייצרת מקומות עבודה. מקומות עבודה זה הדבר החברתי ביותר שישנו, ורק מי שהולך ללשכת הסעד ואין לו פרנסה ואין לו דימוי עצמי אל מול משפחתו, יודע עד כמה הפגיעה של האבטלה גדולה. אנחנו הורדנו את האבטלה לשפל של כל הזמנים וכך פעלנו גם בנושא החברתי.

הצמיחה מאפשרת לממשלה להשקיע בכל התחומים – בכבישים, ברכבות, במחלפים. אנחנו משקיעים סכומי עתק כדי לקרב את הגליל והנגב למרכז. אנחנו מבצעים מהפכות, מהפכות חסרות תקדים בחינוך – מחינוך חינם לגיל הרך ועד לשבעה מיליארד שקלים שאנחנו משקיעים בשיקום ההשכלה הגבוהה ובהזנקתה קדימה. אנחנו עושים את כל זה כדי להשקיע בעתידנו, אבל היום העתיד כבר כאן – הנה הוא מאחוריי.

היום, חמישה בני נוער מתוך מאות רבות שפנו אליי בפייסבוק – הילה, רועי, שרי, יובל ונסטיה – נמצאים כאן מאחוריי. הם יציגו לנו מיד את הצעות החוק הפרטיות שלכם. זה ביקור ראשון שלכם בממשלה, נכון?

הילדים: כן

ראש הממשלה: אתם מתרגשים?

הילדים: כן

ראש הממשלה: גם השרים התרגשו בביקור הראשון, אבל זה עובר, זה עובר.

אנחנו רוצים לשמוע מה מעניין את הדור הבא. אבל עוד קודם לכן, אני מבקש להתייחס למחירי הדלק. אמש החלטתי יחד עם שר האוצר על ההפחתה במחיר הדלק שנקבע על ידי השוק העולמי. אנחנו הורדנו בפעם הרביעית בתוך שנה אחת את המס על הדלק בסכום מצטבר שהוא גדול מ-80 אגורות. אני חייב לציין שכיום המס על הדלק במדינת ישראל קטן יותר ממה שקיים במדינות רבות באירופה.

אני רוצה להבהיר: אנחנו איננו שולטים במחיר הדלק העולמי . מחיר הדלק עולה בכל העולם, בכל המדינות. מה שאנחנו יכולים לעשות זה לנסות להקל בצורה מדודה ואחראית על המצוקות של האזרחים וכך אנחנו עושים. אבל אנחנו כל הזמן שומרים על מסגרת התקציב. לכן אני אביא לממשלה, בהמשך השבוע את ההצעה שגיבש שר האוצר כדי לטפל בשמירת המסגרת.

מי שאומר שאפשר להוריד מסים וגם להרחיב הוצאות בלי חשבון – נעדר ידע כלכלי ונעדר אחריות לאומית. אנחנו צריכים את המסים כדי לקנות עוד ‘כיפות ברזל’, כדי להשלים את סלילת הגדר, כדי לממן חינוך חינם לילדים, כדי לסלול כבישים ורכבות, כדי לעזור לקשישים ולנזקקים, מה שאגב גרם לכך שבשנתיים האחרונות, אחרי שנים ארוכות, מדד העוני התחיל לרדת. העוני, מספר העניים במדינת ישראל ירד בפעם הראשונה מזה שנים, כי השקענו בקשישים וגם עודדנו יציאה של חרדים וערבים לעבודה. פעם ראשונה השעון הסתובב. אני אומר את כל זה משום שצריך לומר את הדברים כהווייתם.

אני מברך את שר האוצר ומשרדו על הדרך האחראית שבה הם נהגו, וגם הפעם התקציב למימון הפחתת המס יילקח מתהליך ייעול שנעשה במנגנון הממשלתי. גם הפעם לא נפרוץ את המסגרת התקציבית וכך נשמור על הכלכלה של ישראל מפני המשבר העולמי. שנה רביעית מוצלחת לכולנו, ועכשיו אני רוצה לשמוע את הילדים.

תודה רבה לכם

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 25, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks / Speech at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 3-25-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

“Last weekend there were three murders in the Arab sector.  Reducing crime in the Arab sector is a goal of the Government and it needs to be a goal of the country.  I appreciate the fact that there are increasing voices from within the Arab sector, from its leaders, mayors and citizens, calling for stepped-up law enforcement within Arab communities and villages.  I think that this is an important change.  I add to this my call for enlistment in the civilian service, within which it will also be possible to combine actions for increased law enforcement.  The community can help itself.  The Arab sector can help itself vis-à-vis increased law enforcement by volunteering in the civilian service as well.

Last week I attended a conference that the Government organized on increasing the involvement of Israeli Arabs in Israel’s economic growth.  We spoke there about the steps to involve them in the economy, education, transportation, access to jobs and many other issues.  I think that all of these things are important.  While the Government has invested billions of shekels in moving forward on these goals in the Arab sector, I would like to say that without law enforcement, none of these steps will achieve the goal that we are hoping for and striving toward – i.e. the integration of Israeli Arabs in the State of Israel’s progress.

Alongside all of these actions that we are doing and alongside this partnership, there must also be partnership in enforcing the law.  We will do our part.  I expect a practical response by Arab sector community representatives regarding increased law enforcement in their communities.”

דברי ראש הממשלה בפתח ישיבת הממשלה

יום ראשון ב’ ניסן תשע”ב
בוקר טוב,

בסוף השבוע שעבר בוצעו בתוך יממה שלושה מקרי רצח במגזר הערבי. צמצום הפשיעה במגזר הערבי זה יעד של הממשלה והוא צריך להיות יעד של המדינה. אני מעריך את העובדה שעולים קולות מתוך המגזר עצמו, מתוך מנהיגיו, ראשי הערים ואזרחים שקוראים להגברת האכיפה של החוק בתוך היישובים והכפרים הערביים. אני חושב שזה שינוי חשוב. אני מוסיף לזה את הקריאה שלי להתגייסות לשירות האזרחי, שבתוכו ניתן גם לשלב פעולות להגברת אכיפת החוק. הקהילה יכולה לעזור לעצמה. המגזר הערבי יכול לעזור לעצמו באכיפה חזקה יותר של החוק, גם באמצעות פעולות התנדבות בשירות האזרחי.

בשבוע שעבר השתתפתי בוועידה שהממשלה ארגנה, להגברת השותפות של ערביי ישראל בצמיחה של כלכלת ישראל. דיברנו שם על צעדים לשיתופם בפיתוח כלכלי, בחינוך, בתחבורה, נגישות למקומות תעסוקה ונושאים רבים אחרים. אני חושב שכל הדברים האלה הם חשובים. הממשלה השקיעה מיליארדי שקלים כדי לקדם את היעדים האלה במגזר הערבי, אבל אני רוצה לומר, שללא אכיפת חוק, כל הצעדים הללו לא ישיגו את היעד שאנחנו מייחלים לו ופועלים למענו – כלומר, שילוב של ערביי ישראל בקדמה של מדינת ישראל.

לצד כל המעשים הללו שאנחנו עושים ולצד כל השותפות הזאת, חייבת להיות שותפות גם באכיפת החוק. אנחנו נפעל מהצד שלנו. אני מצפה להיענות מעשית מנציגי הציבור של המגזר הערבי להגברת אכיפת החוק ביישוביהם.

תודה רבה.

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 3, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Lowering Israel’s Cost of Living



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 10-3-11

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Monday), 3.10.11:

“First, I would like to wish all ministers and deputy ministers, and all Israelis, a happy and healthy new year.  I believe that this will be a good year, a very good year.  I would like to wish you, Professor Manuel Trajtenberg and the members of your committee, a good year in the wake of the accelerated, serious and detailed work that you did in order to bring good news to Israel’s society.  I know that you invested much of yourself, under complicated conditions, in opening a dialogue with the public, in achieving breakthroughs in so many new fields, as well as old ones that had not been dealt with for many years.  I think that you did very, very important work.

We are going to devote the greater part of this meeting to discussing your committee’s important report.  I believe that there is a change of direction here.  Israelis need to know that we are changing the national order of priorities.  We are making many social corrections for the benefit of Israel’s citizens, but we are doing so responsibly.  The main mission before us is to lower the cost of living in Israel.  This is the root of the distress affecting Israelis and this is what we are going to change and correct.

We are changing the national order of priorities in a wide range of areas including childcare for toddlers, lowering a series of customs duties, enacting tax corrections and cancelling tax distortions, increasing competitiveness for products and services for the benefit of the Israeli economy, increasing negative income tax, housing easements, etc.  We will discuss these today and at future meetings until detailed proposals are submitted.

All of this will be done responsibly, without opening the country’s overdraft.  If we do not act responsibly, we could certainly lead the state of Israel into the situation of many other countries that are on the verge of economic bankruptcy, the collapse of their social welfare systems and high unemployment.  We will act differently.  We will adopt the main points of the report and afterwards we will move forward with detailed recommendations.  Our intention will be to make social corrections while maintaining economic responsibility.  I think that Israel will thereby make a new breakthrough and be a symbol for many other countries vis-à-vis the direction to take.”

דברי ראש הממשלה בפתח ישיבת הממשלה

03/10/2011 – יום שני ה’ תשרי תשע”ב

ראשית, אני רוצה לאחל לכל השרים, סגני השרים, סגניות השרים, אני רוצה לאחל לכולכם, לכל אזרחי ישראל שנה טובה וגמר חתימה טובה. אני מאמין שהולכת להיות שנה טובה, שנה טובה מאוד, ואני רוצה לאחל לך באופן אישי, מנו, לפרופ’ טרכטנברג ולחברי הוועדה, אני רוצה לאחל לכם גם כן שנה טובה אחרי העבודה המאומצת, הרצינית והמעמיקה שעשיתם כדי להביא בשורה לחברה בישראל. אני יודע שאתה השקעת בזה השקעה אישית עצומה, בתנאים לא פשוטים, תוך כדי פתיחת דיאלוג עם הציבור, בפריצת דרך בכל מיני תחומים חדשים או תחומים ישנים שלא טופלו במשך שנים רבות, ואני חושב שעשית עבודה מאוד מאוד חשובה.

אנחנו הולכים לייחד את רוב רובה של הישיבה הזאת לדיון בדוח החשוב של הוועדה בראשותך, ואני מאמין שיש פה שינוי כיוון. אזרחי ישראל צריכים לדעת שהיום אנחנו משנים את סדר העדיפויות הלאומי. אנחנו עושים תיקונים חברתיים רבים שייטיבו עם אזרחי ישראל, אבל אנחנו עושים אותם באחריות. המשימה המרכזית שעומדת בפנינו היא הורדת יוקר המחייה בישראל. זהו שורש המצוקה שפוקדת את אזרחי ישראל וזה הדבר שאותו אנחנו באים לשנות ולתקן.

אנחנו משנים את סדר העדיפויות הלאומיות במגוון רחב של תחומים. החל בסיוע לטיפול בילדים מהגיל הרך, דרך הפחתת שורה ארוכה של מכסים, דרך תיקוני מסים וביטול עיוותי מסים, דרך הגברת התחרות במוצרים ושירותים לרווחה במשק הישראלי, דרך הגדלת מס הכנסה שלילי, דרך הקלות בדיור ועוד תחומים רבים שלא אמרתי. נדון בכך בישיבה הזאת וגם בדיוני המשך, עד להבאת הצעות מחליטים מפורטות לממשלה.

כל זה נעשה באחריות, בלי לפתוח את האוברדראפט של המדינה. אם לא ננהג באחריות, אנחנו בהחלט יכולים להביא את מדינת ישראל למצב של מדינות רבות שבעצם הגיעו לסף פשיטת רגל כלכלית, לקריסת מערכות הרווחה שלהן, וכמובן גם לאבטלה גבוהה. אנחנו ננהג אחרת, אנחנו נאמץ את עיקרי הדוח ואח”כ נלך קדימה להמלצות פרטניות, כשהכוונה שלנו היא לעשות תיקונים חברתיים תוך כדי שמירה על אחריות כלכלית. וגם בזה אני חושב שישראל תפרוץ דרך חדשה ותסמל את הכיוון למדינות רבות אחרות.

תודה רבה לכם, שנה טובה.

Israel Political Brief: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu & Cabinet in Emergency Meeting as Attacks Continue



Cabinet in Emergency Meeting as Attacks Continue

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-21-11

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet of eight trusted ministers is to meet late Saturday night to discuss the ongoing attacks from Gaza. Hamas has declared open war and is allowing – and carrying out – frequent rocket attacks on southern Israel.

At least one person has been killed in the attacks netanyahu sternand dozens wounded, two of whom are in critical condition.

Top IDF brass will be present at the midnight meeting as well, to give the military and intelligence perspective on events. Commanders will update the ministers on the latest incidents, and will take part in discussing various possible responses.

A senior political source was quoted by IDF Army Radio on Saturday as saying that the government hopes to avoid an operation in Gaza. However, the statement was made prior to the barrage of at least five Grad Katyusha missiles on Be’er Sheva that killed one and wounded several others.

MKs from the National Union (Ichud Leumi) party called Saturday for the government to stop acting defensively and start hitting Hamas. MK Aryeh Eldad suggested “taking out all the heads of Hamas, tonight. From Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal on down.”

Gaza terrorists have continued their attacks in recent hours, firing on several towns after hitting Be’er Sheva. No additional injuries have been reported.

via israelnn.com

Israel Economic Protests: Government Panel set up to review demands following mass Israeli protest


Source: JTA, 8-7-11

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established a committee to examine the demands of leaders of the social justice protest movement following one of the largest demonstrations in Israel’s history.

Netanyahu at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday morning announced the formation of a 15-member panel to review the demands, and to submit proposals in the next month for social and economic reform.

The previous night, an estimated 300,000 demonstrators protesting the rising costs of living had gathered in Tel Aviv, with another 20,000 protesting in Jerusalem and several thousands more in cities throughout the country.

It was the third such demonstration — and the largest —  since the protests began more than three weeks ago. Protesters chanted, among other slogans, “The people demand social justice” and “An entire generation demands a future.”

Protest leaders have already decried the committee, saying that they are looking for direct dialogue with Netanyahu. The committee will be headed by Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, chairman of the National Economic Council, and made up of Cabinet ministers, observers and economic experts.

Announcing the formation of the committee, Netanyahu said, “We are aware of the fact that working couples with children are finding it difficult to finish the month. We recognize the plight of students who cannot pay their rent. We are aware of the distress of the residents of neighborhoods, of discharged soldiers and others. We want to provide genuine solutions.

The Israeli leader acknowledged that the committee’s proposals will not please everybody, but he pledged that “We will listen to everyone. We will speak with everyone. We will hold a genuine dialogue, not pressured and perfunctory, but we will really listen both to the distress and to the proposals for solutions. In the end we will consider practical solutions. Practical solutions require choices. They also require balance.”

On Saturday night, Israeli musicians Shlomo Artzi, Rita and Yehudit Ravitz entertained the demonstrators, who also heard speeches from Daphne Leef, founder of the movement, and Rabbi Benny Lau, founder of the Beit Morasha social justice institute.

“If I could, I would show you how people have demanded social justice since the origin of Judaism,” Lau told the crowd.

Israel Economic Protests: Full Text PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting about Housing Protests


Source: PMO, 8-7-11

“In recent weeks we have witnessed public protests that are giving expression to genuine distress.  The distress is focused on the cost of living and the cost of housing but it has many other aspects.  I understand this distress; I am attentive to it, as is the Cabinet.  We started to deal with several of the problems when the Government was formed; for example, housing reform, the plan that saved higher education and a plan – for roads and railways – that is now bringing the periphery closer to the center.

However, there are additional areas that need to be dealt with.  It is impossible to ignore the voices coming from the public and there is no reason for doing so.  We want to give genuine solutions.  We will give them.  I would like to give these solutions, in a thorough – not cosmetic – way, i.e. a genuine change in the order of priorities, a change that will ease the economic burden on Israelis.

We are aware of the fact that working couples with children are finding it difficult to finish the month.  We recognize the plight of students who cannot pay their rent.  We are aware of the distress of the residents of neighborhoods, of discharged soldiers and others.  We want to provide genuine solutions.

Today, I am appointing a professional committee chaired by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg.  The Trajtenberg Committee will be comprised of professionals from within and outside the government.  Prof. Trajtenberg will need a day or two to complete the list of outside experts.  This Committee will hold a broad dialogue with different groups and sectors within the public.  The committee will listen to the distress and to proposals, and will make recommendations that will be submitted to the Social and Economic Cabinet chaired by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

After the Social and Economic Cabinet hears these proposals, final recommendations will be formulated and submitted to me.  I intend to submit the plan to the whole Cabinet.  I want full Cabinet backing for the major change that we are about to bring to the Israeli economy.

I would like to say a few words why I chose Prof. Trajtenberg to chair the Committee.  Manuel is a rare combination of an economist and a man with social sensitivity.  Until recently, he chaired the National Economic Council.  Afterwards, he took it upon himself to save higher education, which had been in deep crisis for a decade, and did so in exemplary fashion.  Indeed, there is a change and everyone can see it.  Much of this is due to you, Manuel.  You outlined a vision and brought the solution.  Manuel is familiar with the Government as well as the public.  He also believes in the idea of the roundtable, or, I should say, round tables, since I will need to open many round tables in order to listen to many people, within a short time.

My request is that the recommendations of the professional committee that you will chair be brought to Social and Economic Cabinet and afterwards to the entire Cabinet within the next month.  This is not a lot of time.  The workload will be heavy but I know that it will be done with great effort, in order to really bring about change.

This change must be focused on several areas that I will define to the Committee.  First, proposals to change the list of priorities in order to ease the economic burden on Israelis.  Second, change the combination of tax payments.  Third, expanding access to social services.  Fourth, increasing competition and efficiency in the markets for goods and services in order to reduce prices.  Five, steps to implement the housing plan that we have already launched.  I add that the team’s recommendations will give expression to the need to maintain fiscal responsibility in the state budget.  Responsibility is especially necessary in a period of economic uncertainty.

We are in a period of economic uncertainty.  Yesterday, something happened which had not occurred in the previous 70 years, since countries began to receive credit ratings.  The credit rating of the US, the greatest economic power in the world, was lowered by Standard and Poor’s.  This event joins with the crisis that is spreading to the major economies of Europe.  It is possible that 120-130 million Europeans live in countries that are on the verge of bankruptcy and mass unemployment.

Therefore, we must act with economic responsibility here while making the corrections that express social sensitivity.  We must act in two spheres simultaneously.  It is very difficult to build an economy.  I have dealt with this, along with many of you.  We dealt with building the Israeli economy.  Twice, we led it from severe crises, in 2003 and in 2008.  We did so successfully.  We built the economy.  The economy is strong and it withstood these crises as it will yet withstand others that await us.

However, we know that we must make the internal corrections.  As we succeeded in crossing stormy economic waters, we will also make the social corrections, with sensitivity, and with responsibility.  I am convinced that we will succeed.

A last remark.  We will be unable to please everybody.  One cannot please everybody.  It is impossible to take the sum total of the demands regarding all the distress and say, and boast, that we can meet them all.  We will listen to everyone.  We will speak with everyone.  We will hold a genuine dialogue, not pressured and perfunctory, but we will really listen both to the distress and to the proposals for solutions.  In the end, we will consider practical solutions.  Practical solutions require choices.  They also require balance.

I think that the Cabinet can unite behind the professional team that we are bringing here.  I would like to very much thank Manuel, that you agreed to take upon yourself this difficult task.  I know that you held intense discussions and were not without hesitation.  We know that there are things which are not yet clear; we will need to clarify them.  I am certain of one thing.  I am certain that I chose the best person in the State of Israel to take up this difficult mission.”

Professor Trajtenberg: “In recent weeks, we have witnessed a very strong, very impressive and unconventional process that has taken place in Israeli society and among the Israeli public.  What clearly arises from it is that on the one hand, there is the expression of frustration, pain and disappointment that a reasonable economic existence seems distant, even uncertain, for young working families.  On the other hand, there is, within this process, the expression of a very tangible yearning, hope and longing for social justice.

Pain on the one hand and longing on the other signify a great potential for a change for the better within Israeli society.  To a large extent, this depends on the ability to translate these genuine feelings from the language of protest into a language of deeper professional understanding and eventually into the language of action, policy and implementation.  The translator’s task is not easy.  The dictionaries of the past will not help.  They failed.  We must find, we must perhaps invent the Rosetta Stone that will allow us to do the work.

Mr. Prime Minister, I decided to accept this task and this is a tribute to your powers of persuasion and your Finance Minister’s entreaties.  But I admit that I do so with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I do so with great excitement because we have before us a rare opportunity to bring about genuine change in our dear country.  On the other hand, I do so with a deep awareness of the great responsibility that this task entails, given the expectations and the risks.

Mr. Prime Minister, I thank you very much for the confidence that you have vested in me.  You may be certain that beyond the mix of excitement and unease that I feel at the moment, my commitment, and that of the team that will be set up, is full and without hesitation.  We have no alternative but success, success – first of all – in listening and in outlining a wise and very responsible policy given the reality around us.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Thank you very much.  On behalf of the entire Cabinet as well as – I think – the Israeli people, thank you.”

Israel Economic Protests: More Giant Housing Protests Planned for Upcoming Weekend


Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-3-11

Protest leaders met again today to formulate their demands from the government, after writing a preliminary list of demands yesterday. National Union of Israeli Students chairman Itzik Shmuli said that progress was being made, and that the protesters have no intention of giving up their struggle.

“We are united, but not uniform, and we have a common goal,” he said. “We won’t stop for a moment, and we’re preparing for a huge protest on Saturday night following the signals we’re getting from the prime minister. Let there be no doubt, we’re fighting for just one thing – to build our home in Israel. This is a protest of the whole nation. Last Saturday night, 200,000 people from the People of Israel – not weirdos or anarchists – went into the streets. We won’t give up.”
israel protests
The protesters also reacted angrily to the news that the Knesset had passed the National Housing Committee Law and blocked major junctions across the country. The protestors also plan a major march in Tel Aviv tomorrow night to protest the passing of the law.

Specific demands reached by all the parties so far include cutting indirect taxes, especially VAT, investing surplus tax revenues in citizens through the state budget, increasing the Ministry of Housing and Construction’s budget for mortgage and rent assistance and easing eligibility criteria, and increasing government aid. The protesters have also agreed on extending free education from the age of three months; to add positions, hospital beds, equipment, and infrastructures to the healthcare system nationwide to OECD levels; and to halt the privatization of welfare and mental health agencies and an and to outsourcing civil service jobs.

This is still only a first draft of demands, and more drafts will be written.

The protest leaders said today that various demands published in the media and detailed in financial costs originated in a position paper for changing Israel’s social and economic policies written by Dror Israel several months ago. That position paper relies on data and studies by top Israeli and foreign economists.

Responding to Ministry of Finance claims that the costs of the demands are inaccurate, the protest headquarters said that this was disinformation. “First, we consider the emerging public debate on how to increase the budget to be important and significant. The heart of the matter is an argument between world views. One view holds that the optimal state budget is one in which the government intervenes as little as possible in the market, privatizes as much as possible, and reduces its involvement. This is the policy that has existed for over 30 years in Israel, and it is precisely why people have hit the streets.

“The second view promotes policies which say that if there are tax surpluses, the money should be invested back in us, the citizens. The time has come to realize that citizens, too, have the right to an opinion on economic conduct.”

As for the financial estimates, the protest leaders say that cutting VAT from 16% to 5% would cost NIS 60 billion (NIS 15 billion a year over four years). At the same time, cancelling the cuts in income and company taxes would generate NIS 22 billion in revenues. A protest leader said, “The pricing in the plan is based on calculations by the Government Revenues Administration about the consequences of not implementing the Rabinovich committee recommendations.”

Another protest leader said, “There have been claims that there are no surplus tax revenues. First of all, this is a figure that the Accountant General has published. The argument that there are no tax surpluses is based on Israel’s debt, but there is no country without debt. The surpluses we’re talking about came after the massive reduction in the debt-GDP ratio – the fastest reduction in the OECD.”

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com

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