Bottom shekel / Well done, Netanyahu
The prime minister has been taking a lot of criticism in the last few months. He seemed to be coasting through his second term as prime minister, not confronting the rest of the world, not goading the left ("they're affffrrraid" ) - and not causing grounds for much confrontation himself. Mainly, he's been trying to please everybody. The result is that he hasn't been leading.
Given that, many feared that he would disappoint regarding the Sheshinski report too, that he would capitulate to the business powers while pretending to forge a compromise. The committee had already done that, retreating far back from its original strong recommendations.
It would have been easiest for Netanyahu to choose that middle road, ostensibly serving all while actually serving only the gas barons. The indecisiveness that has characterized Netanyahu in the last year and a half all but portended as much.
But he didn't. Netanyahu surprised for the better. Finally, he made a decision. He did not compromise, he did not try to make a decision that would anger nobody. Finally, he took a position - a clear, unambiguous one.
Netanyahu decided that he sided with the Sheshinski recommendations, over and out. Absolute.
His decisiveness is a surprise for the better, and it is encouraging.
There is no question that he was helped by Stanley Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel. At TheMarker 2021 Conference last week, he spoke out with unprecedented spirit against the companies' "dirty tricks" - his words - against the Sheshinski panel and its report. With that, he evidently crushed the public-relations campaign being waged against the committee.
Netanyahu was also clearly helped by his finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, who had the wisdom to appoint a panel of experts headed by economist Eytan Sheshinski to weigh the weighty issue of how much the state should earn from exploitation of natural resources, and how much private enterprise should earn.
The prime minister was also helped by the public, which clearly supported raising the taxes on extracting gas.
It is easy to make decisions when they are popular ones. That is true. But at the end of the day, the decision belonged to Netanyahu alone, and he chose to be a leader. Well done.