Oded Forer (L) and Avigdor Liberman (R)
Oded Forer (L) and Avigdor Liberman (R)Flash90

Opposition MKs this week blamed Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism) for the rise in the price of dairy products, saying that Smotrich knew about the expected price hike since January and did nothing.

Last year, the government then in power signed an agreement stating that in May 2023, the price of milk would rise by 16%. Earlier this week, Smotrich succeeded in reducing the price hike to 9.28%, with an agreement that the price would rise gradually, in baby steps, over the next four years and beginning in May 2024. Experts expect that the cost of dairy production will drop during those years, so that the rise in price will not be felt by the public.

Meanwhile, the opposition claims that the coalition spent the entire winter discussing the reform and other laws, and did nothing to alleviate the high cost of living.

MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) tweeted, "The rise in the dairy prices is another failure by the government in the war against the cost of living. Where is the money?"

Meanwhile, TV program, "The Other Side," presented by Guy Zohar, revealed who the parties responsible for the rise in prices are: Ministers in the previous government, led by then-Prime Minister Yair Lapid and then-Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and then-Agriculture Minister Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu).

Last year, Liberman and Forer signed an agreement with the Dairy Council, according to which the price hikes, which until then had required the Finance Minister's signature, would happen automatically, with the Finance Minister no longer able to involve himself in the matter. With the signing of this order, Lapid, Liberman, and Forer removed the ability of the Finance Minister - any Finance Minister - to have any significant impact on the price of dairy.

Zohar concluded, "This agreement declared that starting from May 2023, the cost of raw milk would be updated automatically in accordance with the rise in inputs, without the need for the Finance and Agriculture ministers to sign an order approving the new price. So the Finance Ministry could not do anything."

"It's always possible to criticize the coalition - and we do criticize the coalition - but don't forget who is responsible for the current situation: a government which today is criticizing from the opposition."

Despite the removal of his authority to prevent the price hike, Smotrich did succeed in lowering the rise by nearly 50%, preventing Israelis from collapsing under an even greater burden.