Vote on Trajtenberg Committee Plan to Be Pushed Off After Ministers Cry Foul

Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu ministers informed cabinet secretary they will vote against recommendations if they are put up for a vote on October 3.

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Intense pressure from various ministers and the leaders of the social protest has prompted the government to refrain from voting today on the recommendations of the Trajtenberg committee. Instead, the ministers will only hold a discussion on the matter.

The discussion will go ahead despite the fact that the socioeconomic cabinet, which was supposed to hold a preliminary debate on the recommendations, has yet to convene and approve them.

Tel Aviv inspectors telling Rothschild Boulevard tent dwellers they must move out, October 2 2011. Credit: Ofer Vaknin

The Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu ministers have informed the cabinet secretary that they will vote against the recommendations if they are put up for a vote today. According to a decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the cabinet will vote on the recommendations in its second meeting on the matter, on Sunday.

The socioeconomic cabinet was slated to discuss the Trajtenberg Committee recommendations yesterday, but the meeting was canceled to allow the forum of eight senior ministers to convene to approve the Quartet's initiative for the renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians.

Several days ago, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu ) sent a letter to cabinet secretary Tzvi Hauser requesting a delay in the discussion on the grounds that the ministers have not had enough time to fully study the recommendations.

"I am sure that you, too, think that there is need for a little more time than a day and a half to study the report so as to make decisions on the future economic and social policies of the State of Israel that will influence the fate of so many families in the country," Misezhnikov wrote.

Yesterday, the Yisrael Beiteinu ministers announced they would vote against Trajtenberg's recommendations both because there had been no preliminary discussion on the matter, and also because it had emerged that the government wasn't planning to discuss the alternative economic plan formulated by the party.

Shas ministers also expressed their discontent yesterday with regard to the fact that the recommendations have not been discussed by the socioeconomic cabinet.

"Shas has reservations about the report put together by the Trajtenberg team and the fact that the proposed solutions deal primarily with the middle class and not the weaker strata," a Shas source said. "In addition, Trajtenberg did not offer a solution for the issue of public housing, and this is a matter that the party ministers will insist upon."

Sources yesterday at the Prime Minister's Bureau confirmed that the government would not vote today to approve the Trajtenberg committee findings: "A discussion on the subject is expected to take place, and the ministers will be able to express their opinions on the various recommendations; but there will be no vote," one source said.

According to the sources, the order of things may be switched such that after the government's discussion, the recommendations will be passed on to the socioeconomic cabinet for a vote. The socioeconomic cabinet, the sources said, is a statutory body that has the authority to approve the recommendations.

The National Union of Israeli Students, which is trying to sabotage approval of the recommendations as a single entity, was happy to hear yesterday of the suspended vote.

According to Student Union leader Itzik Shmuli, the report includes a number of positive elements, but lacks essential recommendations with regard to inequality, the cost of living and the housing situation.

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