PM Naftali Bennett with Avigdor Liberman & Orna Barbivay
PM Naftali Bennett with Avigdor Liberman & Orna BarbivayAmos Ben Gershom/GPO

Around half of Israelis report being significantly impacted by the rising cost of living in Israel and being forced to cut back on basics, according to a new survey published in Israel Hayom. The survey included over 500 participants who were asked to compare their current experience with their lifestyle prior to the recent spike in the cost of living.

The survey, commissioned by the Dror Yisrael movement, which aims to advance social equality and narrow the socioeconomic gaps in the Israeli population, revealed disturbing findings, including that around 50 percent of Israelis are being forced to cut back on heating their homes this winter.

64 percent of those surveyed reported that they have cut back on food purchases in recent weeks, and 73 percent added that they had cut back on recreation and leisure expenses. Around 40 percent said that they had postponed or cancelled non-urgent medical procedures and courses of treatment.

The survey’s findings also testified to a lack of faith in the government’s ability and/or determination to rectify the situation, with almost 60 percent of those polled responding that they do not believe that the economic plan rolled out by the government last week will bring down the cost of living. 31 percent of those polled said the plan would have a small positive impact; only five percent said they believed the plan would have a large impact on bringing down prices.

Almost half of those polled (46.9 percent) said they thought the government should reduce VAT, and 38 percent of respondents said the government should raise the minimum wage. 32 percent of respondents said they thought the government should raise benefits for the elderly and those with limited means, and 22 percent supported raising taxes on the very rich.

Just 14 percent of those polled thought that it was a priority to open the fruit and vegetable market to more imports, even though the Finance Ministry has laid especial stress on this measure. Around 10 percent of respondents thought that there was a need to provide financial compensation to businesses that have been negatively impacted by the government’s coronavirus regulations.

Significantly, over half (51.1 percent) of those polled said the government is responsible for the rising cost of living, even though government ministers have insisted that the problem is a global one. Just 16.6 percent of respondents said the rising cost of living was due to a lack of competition, while 12 percent blamed food producers and the supermarket chains. Eight percent of those polled blamed the public itself for the situation, for not protesting against price rises.

Following on these results, over 76 percent of those polled gave the government a negative grade for its handling of the economic situation as it relates to the cost of living. Among those, 40 percent said they thought the government’s handling of the crisis was “abysmal.”

Over 40 percent of respondents said that the most challenging aspect of the current crisis was the rise in food prices, and around 20 percent were also concerned about the rise in energy prices.

Responding to the survey’s findings, Pesach Hausfetter, coordinator of Dror Yisrael, said: “Economic disparities within society constitute a grave threat to the continued existence of Israeli society as a whole. The concept of social justice has not been a mere slogan in Jewish history, and anyone who fails to understand this is endangering our very existence.

“Members of our movement have been meeting with people from all across the country,” he continued, “and everyone can see the difficult situation we’re in, and the fundamental needs that are not being met. We commissioned this survey in order to establish the actual data, and the survey revealed a very disturbing picture of wide economic gaps within the population. The Israel government must now intervene.”