The decision followed one of the largest demonstrations in Israel's history, during which 300,000 people hit the streets to protest rising costs of living.
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"We must provide a solution for the distress," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting after he proclaimed that half of the ministers in his government would take part in the team negotiating with the protesters. "We cannot ignore the voices rising from the public. We will give real solutions, not cosmetic treatments," he added.
Protestors at Saturday night's demonstration (Photo: AFP)
The government said that the team would launch a "round table" discussion on the issues at hand and then convey its recommendations to the Social Economic Cabinet, headed by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who will in turn author solutions and offer them up for approval by Netanyahu and the government.
In addition, two observers will also be present at negotiations – Limor Livnat and Michael Eitan. Prof. Chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education Manuel Trachtenberg will head the team.
Prof. Manuel Trachtenberg (Archive Photo: Noam Moshkovitz)
The team will have to "offer many ideas within a short period of time," Netanyahu said. "There is not much time and a lot of work to be done."
Among the issues to be addressed are, according to the prime minister, "Proposals for a change in priorities in order to relieve the economic burden, a change in taxation, increasing accessibility of social services, increasing competition, and steps for implementation of housing plans that have already launched."
Netanyahu said Professor Trachtenberg is "the best person in Israel to take on this mission."
"Over the past few weeks we have witnessed a powerful, groundbreaking, and impressive process. What arises from it very clearly is the expression of frustration, pain, and disappointment for the fact that a normal economic existence appears far away for working families," Netanyahu said.
"There is great potential for a change for the better in Israeli society. Of course this depends on our ability to translate the whispers of the protest into the language of action. It won't be easy, and I don't know if it has a precedent, but we must find, or possibly invent the Rosetta stone that will help us in this task."
The Kadima party called the decision to establish a committee "a deception", claiming that "Netanyahu is stubbornly trying to prove that he couldn't care less about the protest and is offering the protestors the same thing he did before, instead of realizing that real change is needed."
Attila Somfalvi Contributed to this report
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