Tzipi Livni and Yoel Hasson
Tzipi Livni and Yoel Hasson. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The Kadima party yesterday launched a public and parliamentary campaign to lower the price of gasoline and the tax on fuel.

At a protest meeting at the Knesset on the issue, Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken about lowering taxes. But meanwhile, the citizen who has to fill his car's tank and also buy groceries doesn't have enough money to get through the month.

"When they speak of the collapse of the middle class," Livni said, "it's everyone."

The Kadima conference also attracted participation by other groups, including narrow-interest groups such as associations representing taxi drivers and the truck transportation industry, and organizations of motorcyclists and the disabled.

"Most of the [taxi] drivers voted for Bibi [Netanayhu] and we regret that," said Shlomo Argaz, the chairman of the Castel taxi company, who added: "To pay for diesel fuel, I have to work 14 and even 16 hours a day. How can I work more hours?"

The head of the truckers' council, David Kochba, claimed that the government was cheating the truckers on a systematic basis.

"The trucking companies represent 47,000 truckers," he said. "We transport 95% of the merchandise in Israel. When 40% of my expenses go for diesel fuel, I have to either raise my prices or take it from the drivers' salaries or it is reflected in safety."

The head of the intercity sherut taxi organization, Ben Badri, said, "We're collapsing under the burden. Forty percent of expenses go to fuel and we haven't even talked about insurance and other measures the treasury has imposed on us."

"This battle will only succeed in a joining of forces by the Knesset and the public on the street. It's a battle against the combination of increased taxes and a campaign of fraud," said Kadima MK Yoel Hasson, who was one of the initiators of the conference. "On one hand, they are telling the public they are lowering direct taxes, and on the other hand, they are raising other taxes to cover it."

Kadima MK Yulia Shamalov Berkovich, who was also involved in initiating the conference, said, "Students all over the world spearhead social struggles. But how can you expect the Israeli student to set out on a social struggle when he's not only studying but has several jobs in parallel? "