Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu related to the housing protest in his statement to the Cabinet Sunday, before announcing the appointment of a committee that will talk to the protesters. He joined other voices in Likud in saying that the protest could not be ignored.
"In recent weeks we have witnessed public protests that are giving expression to genuine distress," Netanyahu said. "The distress is focused on the cost of living and the cost of housing but it has many other aspects. I understand this distress; I am attentive to it, as is the Cabinet. We started to deal with several of the problems when the Government was formed; for example, housing reform, the plan that saved higher education and a plan – for roads and railways – that is now bringing the periphery closer to the center."
"However, there are additional areas that need to be dealt with. It is impossible to ignore the voices coming from the public and there is no reason for doing so. We want to give genuine solutions. We will provide them. I would like to provide these solutions in a thorough – not cosmetic – way, that is, a genuine change in the order of priorities, a change that will ease the economic burden on Israelis."
Netanyahu announced the appointment of a professional committee chaired by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg that "will listen to the distress and to proposals," and will make recommendations that will be submitted to the Social and Economic Cabinet and then be formulated and submitted to Netanyahu. "I intend to submit the plan to the whole Cabinet," he stressed. "I want full Cabinet backing for the major change that we are about to bring to the Israeli economy."
"This change," he added, "must be focused on several areas that I will define to the Committee.
"First, proposals to change the list of priorities in order to ease the economic burden on Israelis. Second, change the combination of tax payments. Third, expanding access to social services. Fourth, increasing competition and efficiency in the markets for goods and services in order to reduce prices. Five, steps to implement the housing plan that we have already launched. I add that the team's recommendations will give expression to the need to maintain fiscal responsibility in the state budget. Responsibility is especially necessary in a period of economic uncertainty."
"We are in a period of economic uncertainty. Yesterday, something happened that had not occurred in the previous 70 years, since countries began to receive credit ratings. The credit rating of the US, the greatest economic power in the world, was lowered by Standard and Poor's. This event joins with the crisis that is spreading to the major economies of Europe. It is possible that 120-130 million Europeans live in countries that are on the verge of bankruptcy and mass unemployment."
"Therefore, we must act with economic responsibility here while making the corrections that express social sensitivity."
Netanyahu also added a word of caution: "We will be unable to please everybody… It is impossible to take the sum total of the demands regarding all the distress and say, and boast, that we can meet them all."