Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to comments by national protest leaders Monday by saying the main issues presented would "not be solved in days, but in weeks".
Speaking at a special hearing at the Knesset Finance Committee, Netanyahu mentioned the recent downgrading of US credit and warned against following in Europe's footsteps. "They lived beyond their means using financial leverage and loans. That bubble has now popped," he said.
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"In addition to global issues Israel has specific problems. The first is housing, because Israelis pay three times what Americans do for housing and that's not fair. The second one is deformity in taxes, and the third is that we have cartels and monopolies and we will take care of this. The last problem is the distribution of the burden."
Netanyahu said these issues could not be solved immediately. "Certainly not in days, but we will do it in weeks," he vowed, adding that he would treat recommendations offered by the appointed committee "seriously".
Later on Monday speaking at a cabinet meeting in his office, Netanyahu said that he was sure that the Trachtenberg Committee recommendations will be adopted.
"Just as the government under my leadership adopted the Sheshinski Committee recommendations, I'm sure that the government will adopt the Trachtenberg Committee recommendations in which I have complete faith."
Earlier the head of the National Student Union called a press conference to respond to government efforts at quelling the wave of social protests sweeping through Israel, and said leaders of the demonstrations would not engage in "trick" talks with the State.
"There are no protests for the sake of protesting, but there will also not be a negotiation for negotiation's sake," said Itzik Shmuli. "We will not cooperate with Netanyahu's tricks."
Shmuli called Netanyahu "disappointing", and said that if he did not "make a U-turn" with welfare policies, another leader would take his place.
He added that solutions offered so far by the state, including budget cuts across the board for all government ministries, were "well-known tricks".
"I am not in the game of taking from someone to give to someone else. We are looking for a real, rooted solution for the situation in which Israeli society now finds itself," Shmuli said.
Rothschild Boulevard's 'tent city' (Photo: Ben Kelmer)
Experts: State has become banana republic
Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, who heads the committee established by the government to hold talks with the protesters, visited Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard Sunday evening and held talks with residents of the 'tent city' established there.
But leaders of the protest are already looking elsewhere for guidance. They have met with 'social think tanks' comprised of experts in the fields of economics and social welfare in order to discuss with them whether to engage in talks with the 'Rothschild team'.
Professor Yossi Yonah, who is one of the experts coordinating the expert teams' work, said earlier Monday that "similarly to the big marches coming from the tents, we also believe something has been lost and spun out of control."
"Israel's statehood is collapsing and instead a banana republic is being established," Yonah added.
"We demand that the prime minister clarify the limits and authority of the committee. The false display of transparency with the tent visit and online has no value so long as the committee's mandate is kept secret from the public. The prime minister is playing poker and placing an entire public at risk."
Boaz Fyler and Yoav Zitun and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report
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