Speaking in the Knesset plenum Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the large housing protests and said that "a wave of populism has been sweeping the country" in recent weeks. "There is a serious statement about problems, and there are much less serious statements about the solutions," Netanyahu said, sticking a pin into the press-inflated protest balloon.
The special Knesset session to discuss the protests was proposed by the Opposition and held under the heading "the failure of the Netanyahu government in diplomatic, economic and social spheres."
Netanyahu compared the economy to a tree. "The tree yields fruit and one may pick them," he explained. Three years down the line, if you have finished picking but you have not been hoeing and watering, then the tree withers up and gradually yields less, until it gives nothing at all."
Netanyahu noted that Israel's economy can boast of great successes, including ones on an international scale, and problems that need to be solved. However, this needs to be done in a responsible manner, he went on. "The solutions must be given while preserving the tree – the free economy – and providing solutions to social problems at the same time."
"The worst option is that you not only neglect to water the tree, but you cut it down – because that is how you reach an avalanche. You cannot cut down the tree if you want to enjoy its fruit." Some European economies, he said, are like forests that have been cut down – or are almost at that stage.
The Knesset voted to accept the Prime Minister's statement 52:42.