Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
zigzagging on the government vote over the Trajtenberg Committee
recommendations for social change in Israel
may already be taking a political toll.
Monday saw the cabinet deal the prime minister a political blow, after a seemingly overwhelming opposition to the report's draft within the government forced him to yet again delay the vote on its proposed changes.
Netanyahu's political adversaries, it seems, think that the cabinet's obstinacy may have served as the proverbial starter pistol, signaling the beginning – albeit an unofficial one – of the next national elections campaign.
Chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich
told Ynet on Monday that "Netanyahu's failure to pass the Trajtenberg report is a testament to the fact that the magnitude of the social protest is not lost on the ministers, and even they understand that the report is a mere collection of articles, some damaging and some recycled."
Monday's cabinet meeting (Photo: Mark Israel Salem)
"It's a shame that Prime Minister Netanyahu fails to share his minister's understanding, and chooses to stick to a radical capitalistic approach that the public is no longer willing to abide," she said.
MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) added that "we've always know that Netanyahu doesn’t really want to change anything. Now we know that he can't, either.
"Netanyahu's government has hit a social and political dead end. You might say one can 'smell' the nearing elections. Netanyahu should... let the people have their say in the elections."
MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima)
also blasted Netanyahu over his failure in the cabinet: "This government can't seem to agree on anything, decide on anything or do anything… and today it has proven once more that it cannot govern or make any decisions regarding Israel's future. If this wasn’t so sad, we'd be laughing, but unfortunately, the joke is on us."
Kadima faction Chairman MK Yoel Hasson added that the failed vote was proof that even Netanyahu's coalitional partners – as well as his Likud peers – understood that the committee was never meant to bring about true change, but rather to "strategically eliminate the call for social justice, which has united the people."
MK Ruhama Avraham (Kadima) echoed her peers' sentiments, adding that "it takes a strong, determined leader to change the core perceptions of a predatory economy which targets society's weaker echelons. Tonight Netanyahu has proven once again that he is no leader."
MK Avraham Michaeli (Shas)
said his party – which is a part of the Coalition – "has put forth several proposals regarding public housing and the financial edicts, but the government and the Treasury opposed them all. You can't force us into a vote."
Shas MK Nissim Zeev added: "There were many things about the report that bothered us, mainly the fact that the committee didn’t address the housing problem or the cost of living.
"I also don't think the defense budget should be cut, like the report suggests. You have to instate policy changes and that needs to be done through the government, not through a two-month-old committee."
Social protest leader Daphni Leef said that the activists were pleased with the fact that the cabinet deferred the vote on the Trajtenberg recommendations: "Over a million Israelis took to the streets this summer – they didn’t do that to have this report snuck by them."
A statement by the social reform campaign said that "the solution for Israeli society's problem does not lie in such 'prizes' – it requires a profound change in national priorities, and that can be achieved only through a new, social budget for 2012."
Boaz Fyler contributed to this report