Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud Party) defended the government's plan to cut the budget and raise taxes. The full text of his statements on Wednesday are as follows:
"For three years we have been successfully fighting the global economic crisis. We have succeeded in preserving the Israeli economy and Israeli citizens from the catastrophe that we see in America, Europe and other places.
In order to continue doing so, we need to maintain budgetary and economic responsibility. When I submitted the updated deficit target of 3% at the Caesarea Conference three weeks ago, I said that we would, in the coming weeks, submit a package of economic steps in order to meet the deficit target. We presented a realistic deficit target, which it is possible to meet, of 3%, but we must make an effort to meet it.
Even as we witness Germany's credit rating begin to be undermined by a negative forecast, how much more so must we look after the Israeli economy and, therefore, on Monday, we will submit a series of steps that will increase state revenues by billions of shekels, some immediately and some in 2013. We mean what we say – a basic package that will be clear to the entire world including credit rating companies and investors. We increased the deficit target from 1.5% to 3% and we will take all measures to meet the new target. If we had not updated the deficit target, we would have needed to impose another NIS 15 billion in taxes beyond that which intend to do. We have refrained from doing this, but twill implement he necessary minimum, the basic package, and I would like to say – this is the line of defense for the Israeli economy and the citizens of Israel. Whoever suggests otherwise, whoever proposes that we declare that we will not meet the deficit target, suggests Spain or Greece. One should see what is happening in Spain or Greece and understand that whoever refuses to increase state revenues and maintain budgetary and economic responsibility, brings Israeli citizens closer to what is happening in Greece, Spain, Italy and other places."