Herzog, Livni: Economist Trajtenberg Has Joined Slate

Progressive economist gained fame with reform recommendations after 2011 social protest.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg.
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg. Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Labor chairman Isaac Herzog and Hatnuah chairwoman Tzipi Livni announced yesterday that Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, a progressive economist who gained renown after the 2011 social protest, will join their Knesset slate in a realistic spot. He is the Zionist Camp candidate for finance minister.

Trajtenberg, who headed a government-approved panel that drew up a list of reform proposals following the massive summer protest, is joining a party that includes two of that movement’s leaders, MKs Stav Shafir and Itzik Shmuli. Their inclusion did not prove itself electorally, as voters preferred Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party in the 2013 elections.

Trajtenberg is expected to serve as a bridge between Herzog’s and Livni’s socioeconomic worldviews. Just when Likud is fighting to keep the treasury portfolio, Labor and Hatnuah want to present a senior professional for the position.

When he was at work on the post-protest committee, Trajenberg promised that if the panel’s recommendations did not bring about the hoped-for change, he would personally become involved to complete the task.

“There were recommendations that were implemented – even at election time you have to be fair and say that. But the governments that served since then failed in their handling of the number one problem – the housing problem, as well as the disgraceful poverty rate, lower work productivity and real wages that are steadily declining. I stand here today in order to implement the commitment, in the hope that this time I can do so from within the government of Herzog and Livni. We have a responsibility to an entire generation that feels that the government turned its back on it.”

In the past Livni criticized the decisions of the Trajtenberg committee. Yesterday she explained that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed the committee in order to bury its recommendations rather than implement them. She said Trajtenberg would provide the proper economic guidance and a new government would have to make the decisions, even if implementing the recommendations would be difficult.

Trajtenberg denied reports that he had negotiated with any other political party regarding candidacy for the next Knesset, including Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party.

Two weeks ago he announced his resignation as chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee in the Council for Higher Education, due to his desire to join one of the parties after the disbanding of the government. He informed Netanyahu of his decision with less than a 24-hour advance warning. Trajtenberg wrote to Netanyahu: “I’m doing this in order to open the possibility of taking part in the coming election campaign, in the belief that I may be able to contribute to the continuing success of the economy and at the same time to the shaping of a more just society.”

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