Livni: Netanyahu After Headlines, Not Israel's Interests

Opposition leader claims privatization is behind PM's proposed land reform and not efficiency.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attempted land reform on Wednesday, saying the proposed bill only demonstrates how the prime minister prefers headlines over the country's best interest.

Livni, speaking at a conference arranged by the Knesset's environmental lobby, said that Netanyahu's claim that a land reform could cut through existing red tape was untrue and that the prime minister was in love with privatization.

"Most of the steps needed to smooth out the Israel Land Administration's red tape have already been taken, but the prime minister wants reform, a dramatic move, a great newspaper headline, while going against Israel's national interests."

While the Israel Land Administration is indeed a cumbersome organization, Livni said, "where files take months to pass from one clerk to another clerk sitting in the same room, that situation does not require privatizing land."

The conference was assembled ahead of the government's plan to present the bill for a second and third reading in a special session to take place during the scheduled Knesset break.

Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz also criticized the proposed land reform bill during the conference, which was attended by members of all of the Knesset's factions, and urged his fellow Labor members to announce their objection to the bill immediately.

One of the environmental lobby's heads, Hadash MK Dov Khenin, urged anti-privatization activists to continue their work and to assemble two protest rallies in front of the Knesset.

Khenin also called on the activists to "work forcefully toward repeating last week's achievement."

Last week a request to defer the vote over the land reform was submitted by the coalition after it became evident during the course of the voting that some of the bill's sections failed to command a majority due to the absence of ministers and Labor MKs.