In a pre-Pesach interview, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told business daily The Marker that Israel was in very good economic shape, and that the Israeli economy was able to provide jobs and income in a relatively efficient and fair manner – if, that is, you did not factor the Hareidi and Arab populations in the statistics.
Netanyahu was discussing the recent OECD report that said that in the past two decades, Israel's economy had lost its equilibrium, and that the poor and middle class were losing out to the wealthy. Israel, the report claimed, was among the three countries in the world with the greatest income gap between the top income earners, and everyone else.
But according to Netanyahu, that inequality stems not from structural forces in the economy, but from the fact that many Hareidim and Arabs do not work, contributing to the poverty in those communities.
“If you remove the Arabs and Hareidim from the equation, and do not include them in the statistics for inequality, we are actually in good shape,” Netanyahu said in the interview, adding that the middle class resented the fact that these two groups were a “drag” on the economy.
“The middle class that went out into the streets last year to protest believes that is funding these two sectors. They are not always wrong,” he said.
Netanyahu said that he had listened to those protests, and had acted in order to deal with the problems expressed by protesters. The protests, he said, had three main causes: High housing prices, the high cost of child care, and the high cost of goods and services in the economy.
The full interview will be published Friday.