MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud), Chairman of the Knesset’s Economic Committee, said on Tuesday that while some of the demands of the housing protest leaders were justified, the others simply prove that they are irresponsible.
“The demands to increase the aid provided in mortgage and rent are correct and justified, as is the demand to reduce VAT, on condition that the reduction is proportionate and justified,” Shama-Hacohen said.
He added, however, “The other demands show that the protest leaders may be young idealists, but they are irresponsible and lack a national vision.
“The road to bankruptcy of any national economy is paved with good and expensive intentions,” Shama-Hacohen said. “They demand expenditures of tens of billions a year without pointing out the budgetary resources for the annual interest that the national debt will accumulate.”
His comments echo those of Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, who said on Monday that there while there were areas for improvements, it was important to preserve the budgetary framework.
Fischer said that instead of launching ill-considered programs, the committee set up to examine the tax structure was excellent and perhaps the decline in direct taxation and the increase in indirect taxation was responsible for growing socioeconomic gaps in Israel.
Shama-Hacohen also referred to the demands of the protest organizers, who on Sunday demanded that the Prime Minister himself sit at the negotiating table with them. They further demanded that negotiations be held on live television, and with the press present in the room. They also insisted that Netanyahu cancel the National Housing Committees Law as a precondition for meeting him.
They later backed down from these outrageous demands, following a meeting with President Shimon Peres. Peres convinced the protest leaders to join a roundtable discussion with the government and employers.
“Their demands to place cameras during negotiations and asking that the Prime Minister be the one to conduct negotiations with them were a direct indication of the move of the protest from the national consensus to the controversial field,” said Shama-Hacohen. “The achievements of the protest will come through the work of a ministerial committee and not from unrealistic demands.”