Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich began the weekly Religious Zionism faction meeting this afternoon (Monday) by addressing the cost of living and blaming the previous government for the current situation.
"I have defined the fight against the cost of living as a central goal in my work in the ministry," Smotrich said. "Look, it's no secret that we received a terrible inheritance. In only a year and a half, the previous government managed to make bad decisions that severely harmed the citizens of Israel. When you add to that the global crisis that afflicts all the economies of the world, you get the result we are dealing with now."
"Thank God, Israel has economic strength and its stability is not in doubt. Last week I was at the OECD conference in Paris, where I participated in many discussions and met many delegations from around the world, including the CEO of the OECD. Everyone I met mentioned the economic strength of the State of Israel and its status as one of the most stable economies in the world.
Smotrich stated that this economic stability now helps in the fight against the rising cost of living. "In the last budget, we made significant moves that will address the root problems in the cost of living. We have established a team between ministries and a committee that will act quickly and formulate a law that will dismantle the monopolies that control our food basket. These days we are working together in order to check the surplus profits of the banks with the desire to reduce their desire to make capital on the backs of the public. And the list goes on."
"We will continue and fight the cost of living, we will turn over every stone and do everything so that the food and living basket in Israel will be more decent, more correct and more just.
Smotrich also said that "violence is eroding the foundation of democracy and it is currently led by a group of people, some from the opposition and some from previous oppositions. What they all have in common is hatred of the other, incitement and ignorance. Yes, yes, it is precisely those people who always talk about democracy who use violence and incite against anyone who thinks differently from them."
"When I think of the days when some of these people led processes in the country, with much less consent and much more deviousness - how the entire law enforcement system worked overtime for them. How everyone who thought differently from them was silenced in a very undemocratic way. Yes, among those people who thought differently than them was me. We did not act violently, we did not call for civilian riots. We have never normalized refusals to serve. We have never normalized violence.
''And they? They are busy day and night slandering one part of the nation against the other part, making inciting lies that they know they are lies - all with the aim of disintegrating the country from within. From Ehud Barak and the released prisoner Olmert I have no expectations. Neither from Lapid and Gantz, but Lapid and Gantz are members of the Israeli Knesset and lead the opposition. I call to them: stop. Stop inciting, stop inflaming, stop normalizing violence, stop being an opposition to the state.''
Turning to the judicial reform issue, Smotrich said that "today, an absolute majority of the public understands that the judicial system must undergo substantial revisions. Out of national responsibility, while we looked in amazement at the tremendous irresponsibility of the left and its system of spreading lies throughout the world, we entered the talks at the President's Residence and came there with a sincere and genuine desire to reach understandings around which we will formulate the necessary steps to correct the judicial system."
"So far, it doesn't seem like the other side came there with the same goals but out of a desire to spend time and to impose their views - so I have news for them: in the last elections the national camp won, the majority of the public in Israel chose it and the judicial reform will move forward. If you want to come to an understanding, you are welcome. If not, don't hinder us,'' said Minister Smotrich.
When asked about the reports that Justice Minister Yariv Levin, one of the main architects of the judicial reforms, will soon resign, Smotrich said: "Yariv Levin will continue to be Minister of Justice for at least another three years, I can say this because I know. Enough with the spin."