Netanyahu. 'Recruit Jewish Agency'
Photo: Doron Golan

Netanyahu: Pensions cut – Arabs' birth rate declined

Likud chairman finds positive aspects in economic cuts in child pensions during his tenure as finance minister: Birth rate in non-Jewish sector dropped, more ultra-Orthodox people joined workforce

Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to rehabilitate his relations with the ultra-Orthodox sector. Speaking at a convention of the ultra-Orthodox local authorities held in Gush Etzion on Tuesday evening, Likud Chairman Netanyahu explained his economic moves during his tenure as finance minister which caused harm to the ultra-Orthodox public, particularly regarding child pensions.


In his speech, Netanyahu referred to the cuts in child pensions, saying that since they were implemented "two positive things happened: Members of the haredi public seriously joined the workforce. And on the national level, the unexpected result was the demographic effect on the non-Jewish public, where there was a dramatic drop in the birth rate."


After the government's cuts, Netanyahu suggested recruiting other financing elements in order to assist families with a large number of children, for instance the Jewish Agency and donations from abroad.


"I don’t think that the Jewish Agency should refrain from helping part of the Jewish public in the State, and it is possible that additional non-governmental bodies could have done so.


"I would look for ways to help families blessed with children, which have at least one breadwinner," he said.


The former finance minister had another proposal: Negative income tax for a person who is working and was blessed with children.


'Erroneous strategy'

Netanyahu exerted a lot of efforts in explaining to the conference attendees the moves which led him to cut child pensions.


"We had to do a terrible and difficult thing. We had to implement drastic cuts in expenses. The ultra-Orthodox public suffered, and I am aware of how difficult it was. I know that it's not easy to take from a family with eight or 10 children, but in this case there was simply no choice, because when a crash comes, it come very fast."


Beitar Illit Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus said, "There is no doubt that Netanyahu tried to explain that the cuts in the pensions came as a result of the economic situation. It is clear to me that if he eventually builds a government in the future with United Torah Judaism and Shas as partners, he will talk differently."


Arye Zisman, the political correspondent of the Yated Ne'eman newspaper, refused to be impressed by Netanyahu's remarks, saying that "Bibi is now attempting to set the ultra-orthodox public against the Arabs. This is a foolish attempt.


"The ultra-Orthodox public suffered financially from the cuts in the pensions and is not convinced by remarks about the birth rate among the Arabs. He took an erroneous strategy."


פרסום ראשון: 01.03.07, 00:16
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