Netanyahu - Marc Israel Sellem - 09102011
Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting last week. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem
Text size

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes his cabinet will approve the Trajtenberg recommendations on Sunday, despite his failure to get the report on socioeconomic change approved at last week's meeting.

Netanyahu is insisting on having the ministers vote on the report in full, as opposed to line by line.

Last week, Netanyahu had been caught off guard by the objections of coalition partners, including Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas, and chose not to bring the report for a vote. But this time around, Yisrael Beiteinu will support the report, sources in Netanyahu's bureau said.

If Netanyahu fails yet again to get the report passed, this could be seen as an impetus to move up elections, currently scheduled for 2013.

The report was drafted by a panel Netanyahu appointed, headed by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, in order to propose steps for changing the country's social and economic priorities. Netanyahu appointed the panel in response to the summer's social protest movement.

Last week and even last night, after the Yom Kippur fast ended, Netanyahu was pressuring his ministers to vote for the report.

The cabinet has 29 ministers, including 15 from Likud, five from Yisrael Beiteinu, four from Shas, four from Atzmaut, and one from Habayit Hayehudi. Last week, thanks to Netanyahu's lobbying, the report had the support of 13 Likud ministers and the one Habayit Hayehudi minister.

As far as is known, none of the ministers who objected last week have committed to support the report this week.

Netanyahu's discussions with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman last week led his bureau to say that his party was likely to support the report, and that other parties would then likely follow suit.

His bureau could not explain why Welfare Minister Moshe Kahlon, who is considered a close associate of the prime minister, did not support the report last week. But the Likud ministers who failed to back the recommendations - Kahlon, Silvan Shalom and Yossi Peled - will pay a political price, the bureau sources said.

None of the coalition parties are interested in dissolving the coalition and heading for early elections, said bureau sources. Given the storm facing the global economy, Netanyahu will not allow for expanding the budget under any circumstances, and the parties know this, they said.

The Trajtenberg recommendations would fix failures of both this government and its predecessors, said bureau sources. While it gave proper solutions to some of the problems, it cannot fix all the issues facing Israel's society and economy, they said.

The coalition parties do not object to the report itself, but rather to specific parts of it, said the sources. For instance, Shas thinks the housing recommendations do not go far enough, while Atzmaut objects to funding the recommendations by cutting the defense budget.

Yisrael Beiteinu, however, likely does not object to any particular part of the report; last week, its ministers were upset that they were being asked to vote before they had time to read it.

The sources also contended that Netanyahu did not suffer a defeat in the public's eyes for his failure to get ministers to fall in line last week, despite what the media reported.