Trajtenberg Committee submits report
Head of committee tasked with formulating new socioeconomic agenda presents recommendations: Approval of 196,000 new apartments, more taxation on the rich, free education from age three. PM: Israelis will be able to buy more with their money. Protest leaders: Numbers not even close to what public needs
The recommendations, presented by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, include the approval of 196,000 new apartments within five years, 20% of which will be allotted for affordable housing; increasing the Corporate Tax and Capital Gain Tax to 25%; reducing the prices of subsidized products like milk and eggs; implementing the Free Education Law from the age of three; encouraging the ultra-Orthodox sector to take part in national service and receive professional training; operating express buses from the periphery to central Israel and a 50% discount on public transportation for students.
PM: Defense budget remains largest
"The goal we have set for ourselves is to lower the cost of living," Netanyahu said upon receiving the report. "We realized that a reality in which the Israeli citizen pays too much for education and social services must change. I asked the committee members to make life easier for Israel's citizens and lower the cost of living in the country.
"I must admit that Prof. Trajtenberg and the committee members did the impossible – in a short period of time they managed to study the issue thoroughly, share the committee's discussions with the public and come up with recommendations which will fix the distortions in the economy.
"The implementation of the Trajtenberg Committee conclusions, along with the concentration committee conclusions, will lead to a situation in which Israel's citizens will be able to buy more and do more with their money."
The prime minister referred to the conclusions of the Trajtenberg Committee and the concentration committee as "an important landmark in Israel's economy and society."
For decades, he said, "we have not seen such an extensive reform in the Israeli economy, and here we are talking about a huge reform within a week.
"The security of Israel's citizens is the top priority of my government. The defense budget remains the biggest budget among all government ministries. Nonetheless, efficiency and transparency in the defense establishment are two important components which will help improve the welfare of Israel's citizens."
Protest leaders watching Trajtenberg submit report (Photo: Yaron Brener)
While Netanyahu expressed satisfaction with the committee's work, leaders of the socioeconomic protest movement were less enthusiastic about the report, crossing their hands in an 'x' shape in what came to be known as a symbol of disagreement.
At a press conference held after the presentation of the report, protest leader Daphni Leef said: "We were not presented with far-reaching changes. It seem like this committee is not bearing any fruit, and even less than what we hoped it would," she said, adding that the movement leaders will review the recommendation with their expert team and issue an official response on Tuesday.
Regev Contes, also among the protest leadership, expressed disappointment as well, saying "we were not surprised. From the very first moment you can see that the numbers he is talking about don’t even come near what the public needs."
Contes added that although Trajtenberg adopted the "lingo" of the protest movement, he has managed to empty it from all content.