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The issue of whether to rescind the import tax on canned tuna reached the hallowed halls of the Knesset yesterday, as the Economic Affairs Committee took up the matter. Some parliamentarians argued that abolishing the tax would hurt the local fish-canning industry and eliminate jobs. Yiftach Shaked, one of the people behind last year's consumer price protests, countered that tuna isn't raised in Israel and there is no local industry to protect.

The food-prices committee headed by Sharon Kedmi, Director General of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, supports killing the tax on tuna imports.

Tuna reached the Economic Affairs Committee agenda courtesy of MK Majali Wahabi (Kadima). If consumers benefit, the tax should go, Wahabi said, then qualified his remarks: If eliminating the tax ruins competition in Israel's tuna sector, if local plants shut down, the product could wind up costing consumers more.

One tuna canner is Pri Hagalil, a company in deep trouble. MK Lia Shemtov of Yisrael Beiteinu, who has been working on a rescue plan for Pri Hagalil, opposes abolishing import tax on tuna because of potential job losses.

Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich joined her in opposition: "Industrialists who engage in true industry ... and their workers, aren't they the public?" she said. "Is everything about consumerism? So the consumer gets to buy tuna for a shekel less, but layoffs will hurt society."