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Netanyahu during NHC vote
Photo: Noam Moskovich
Netanyahu: Populism sweeping through Israel
PM tries to defend government's handling of housing crisis as Knesset holds heated debate on growing social unrest

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Knesset plenum Wednesday, in one of the most heated debates that the House has held over the past few weeks.

 

The session, held shortly after the Knesset passed the controversial National Housing Committees law, was meant to discuss "Netanyahu's government's political, social and economic failures," and saw Knesset member from the Coalition and Opposition engaged in a war of words over the growing social unrest.

 

 

"Populism is sweeping through the country. There is a serious expression of plight and not-so-serious suggestions for solutions," Netanyahu said.

 

Netanyahu said that while Israel enjoys great successes in some field, it also suffers from plights that must be addressed. However, "anyone can benefit from the economy," he said.

 

He stressed the solutions must be devised responsibly, "In a socially and economically founded and solid manner," which would maintain a free market.

 

Netanyahu mentioned European countries as a model for what should not be done, economy-wise. "If what happened in Europe happens to us, the consequences in our case will be direr in our case," he said. 

 

The prime minister spoke at length about the importance of a competitive market, comparing it to a tree: "The tree bears fruit which are ripe for the picking, but if after three years of picking you haven't tendered to the tree, it will wither and give less and less fruit. We cannot cut down the tree if we want to enjoy its fruits," he said. 

 

The prime minister added that his government had reduced unemployment, invested in higher education while Europe was imposing budget cuts in the field, and "made sure the periphery is connected to the center".

 

He added that the cries on the street were real, as Israel is currently ranked number 40 in global individual income while ranking number 20 in cost of living.

 

Netanyahu explained that the discrepancy is being caused by a lack of competition in markets. He added that indirect taxation is an important issue he plans to address.

 

'Government one big political lie'

In response to Netanyahu's statements, Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni turned to Netanyahu saying: "They are populists? You're a populist. The government is one big political lie. The seeds of mistrust sprouted from every seat Netanyahu gave out."

 

According to Livni, "The government is deceased even if the obituary has yet to be published. The public understands that this government represents everything that is ugly from day one, its ministers and deputy ministers are redundant.

 

"Sowing fear of external threats, muzzling, an impervious government - for all these reasons we went out to the streets with one message and different reasons, for social justice and against Benjamin Netanyahu."

 

 


First published: 03.08.11, 15:52
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