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Netanyahu Answers Protesters: We'll Change Priorities

"We must avoid irresponsible, hasty and populist steps," says Prime Minister, yet agrees "some of the claims are justified."
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/31/2011, 8:29 PM / Last Update: 7/31/2011, 8:48 PM

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Sunday instructed the members of the committee on increasing competition in the economy to accelerate and complete the formulation of their recommendations by the end of the coming month. Netanyahu said that the committee must act to increase market competitiveness and lower prices.
 
Netanyahu noted that he established the committee – chaired by Prime Minister's Office Director-General Eyal Gabai and Finance Ministry Director-General Haim Shani – approximately ten months ago and asked it to examine existing distortions in the economy and recommend ways to solve the problems that are hindering economic activity.
 
Shani tendered his resignation Sunday, and mentioned the recent housing protests as a trigger for his decision. According to Globes, he has had a problematic relationship with Finance Minister Yuval Shteinitz.
 
Netanyahu addressed the protests in his statement to the Cabinet. 
 
"We are now in the midst of a complicated and challenging reality, both internationally and domestically, in the face of which the Government must act responsibly and sagaciously.  It must take proper and responsible steps and avoid irresponsible ones. I must say that today in Israel we can take the necessary measures because we have acted responsibly and sagaciously in the economic sphere in recent years.  Thus, we have the tools.  We have a growing economy.  We have the lowest unemployment in 30 years.
 
"This enables us to make the necessary corrections. We must avoid irresponsible, hasty and populist steps that are liable to cause the country to deteriorate into the situation of certain European countries, which are on the verge of bankruptcy and large-scale unemployment. I do not think that anyone wants Israel to reach such a situation.
 
"On the other hand, all of us, myself first and foremost, along with the members of the Cabinet, we are all aware of the genuine hardship of the cost-of-living in Israel. This affects many areas. Some of the claims that are being heard are justified and some are not. We are obligated to deal with the genuine claims and distress.  Some of them are the result of distortions in the Israeli economy that have taken root here over many long years.Indeed, we must deal with the genuine distress, seriously and responsibly. This, without a doubt, compels us to change our list of priorities. We will need to do this as well, responsibly and sagaciously.

"To this end, I will appoint a special team of ministers and experts that will propose a responsible and practical plan to alleviate Israelis' economic burden. I ask the team to open a roundtable, to invite representatives of various groups and sectors, to hear ideas, to hear claims and to hear solutions, and afterwards to submit a plan for implementation to the Cabinet and to myself, which we will implement in order to alleviate Israelis' economic burden."