The Finance Ministry has spent the last few days finalizing the budget clauses to meet Yisrael Beiteinu's demands. A final agreement was achieved Sunday morning. Avigdor Lieberman's party demanded that criteria for public housing be altered and preference be given for working families according to the number of children. The party also demanded housing solutions for senior citizens and bigger post-army grants for ex-soldiers.
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This in effect secures majority for the report at the cabinet. It appears that Welfare Minister Moshe Kahlon will also vote in favor of the report. Lieberman was seen talking to Minister Yossi Peled in an effort to get him to endorse the recommendations.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai estimated that the report will pass the vote despite Shas' objection. "As long as there aren’t any changes in the report we shall vote against it. Nevertheless, even if the report passes the cabinet vote, it won't pass Knesset legislation without the necessary amendments." Yishai is demanding changes that "benefit the lower classes."
Netanyahu addressed the Trajtenberg Report at the beginning of Sunday's cabinet meeting. "Approving the report will allow lowering the cost of living, substantially easing parental education spending and lowering the value of properties."
He appeared confident the report will receive both the government and the Knesset's approval. "The government under me is committed to taking the necessary actions for Israeli citizens and for lowering the cost of living. I have no doubt this will happen. First in the government and later at the Knesset."
The cabinet meeting was also attended by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, at the request of Barak. Gantz warned of the consequences expected as a result of cutting the defense budget. Finance Minister Steinitz addressed the IDF chief and said: "I'm sure there is room to cut from. Even after the cut, the budget will still address all threats including the rocket threat."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying: "I am responsible for the security of the State of Israel's citizens. There is a responsible five-year plan. A budget change must be made to benefit Israeli citizens. It is a responsible change for which I personally vouch."
If the cabinet votes in favor of the report, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz will have to present detailed proposals for the implementation of the report no later than November 13.
Prior to the cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called on Barak to accept a defense budget cut. "The defense minister himself said that if cuts to the defense establishment were necessary that it will make a meaningful contribution. The defense minister should keep to his word."
The government is meant to produce a report on the implementation of the report by the end of the year. Implementing the report requires amending the budget law by the end of the year.
Last week, Netanyahu announced the matter will not be put up for a vote and later retracted his statement. He later learned that 16 out of 29 ministers opposed the plan.
The Trajtenberg report, which has drawn much criticism from the tent protest leaders, proposes among other things, building 196,000 apartments, increasing tax on the rich, cancelling the petrol tax rise, and applying compulsory education for kids from the age of three.
Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu and Barak's Independence Party opposed the recommendations on a previous discussion and were joined by two Likud ministers.
Shas, for example, were irked by Trajtenberg's call to require yeshiva students to either work and perform military or national service in order to receive state support. Barak opposes a cut to the defense budget which stands to lose NIS 3 billion.
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