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      Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni Derides PM's Housing Solution

      Opposition leader Tzipi Livni derides PM's solution for housing crisis citing the erosion of Israel's middle class as the crisis' primary cause.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 3/10/2011, 5:06 PM / Last Update: 3/10/2011, 9:37 PM

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      Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) launched a rhetorical fusillade at Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's remark today  that Israel's housing crisis requires a metaphorical super-tanker as a solution.  Netanyahu's "supertanker" consists of the establishment  of  committees responsible for cutting through red tape and fast-tracking approval for construction of new housing units. It can take years of wading through Israeli bureaucracy to obtain construction permits.

      Responding to the Prime Minister's proposal, Livni said, "with all due respect to 'cosmic supertankers,' it won't solve the housing problem in Israel. This program is not a cure-all. The middle class cannot continue to feel that it carries other sectors of society who should share the same burdens on its back" .

      Echoing Livni's sentiments, student union members in Jerusalem said of the plan that  "It undermines the principle of equality, which can have far-reaching effects. This group, the middle class, is collapsing into poverty, and inflation is burning the middle class' money on fuel, bread and water."

      Referring to the ongoing social worker's strike, Livni said, "The government thinks it can outsource [social services, ed] and shirks responsibility. It is not possible to privatize this responsibility and transfer it to other organizations in order to continue paying lower wages  to employees in those organizations. The result is that employees don't receive decent wages for their amazing contribution to society." Livni was referring to the practice of using workers from manpower companies or privately run organizations to avoid paying government salaries and perks.

      She criticized the practice of  "holding  negotiations with employees, primarily social workers, while saying that those employed by the government will be paid more, but that those who work in outsourced organizations will not be paid benefits because it's not the government... it is!!"

      Livni is not the only member of the opposition to criticize Netanyahu's construction plan. MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) said, "Bibi is not super, and his plan is not a tanker. Without massive government construction of 100,000 housing units, the problem will not be solved.”