Petrol prices will note another price hike on midnight Saturday, marking a near-10% increase since November 2011; but according to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Israeli would rather pay more for gas – than risk a nuclear Iran.
Faced with growing public protest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Steinitz announced a tempered, NIS 0.05 increase in petrol price, instead of the planned NIS 0.20 increase, which was slated to take effect at midnight Saturday.
The price of 95 octane gasoline will now be NIS 8 ($2.16) at full service stations.
Steinitz, who was interviewed on Channel 2's "Meet the Press" Saturday, said that "Petrol prices are increasing the world over because of the sanctions on Iran, which is on the verge of collapse.
"The Iranians can't sell much of their crude, but the citizens of Europe, Japan, the United States and Israel pay more for gas. We welcome the sanctions in Iran, but their ramifications are a global increase in petrol prices."
Asked whether there was a chance the public outcry could somehow curb spiking petrol prices, Steinitz said that if the government relinquishes on taxes it would have to cut back on security, education and much more.
"There is no such thing as a 'free lunch,'" he said. "My responsibility as finance minister – before my desire to be popular – is to protect Israel's economy from the global recession."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report