Day After 300,000-strong Protests Across Israel, Netanyahu Warns 'Government Can't Satisfy Everyone'

PM announces formation of special economic team to address soaring costs of living; team includes government ministers, academics and experts from private sector.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday the formation of a special economic team to reduce the soaring cost of living, looking to ease tensions a day after 300,000 people demonstrated across the country.

The team will be headed by Professor Manuel Tranchtenberg, Chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, and will also include academics and experts from the private sector.

Protest - Tal Cohen - August 6, 2011
Tal Cohen

The team will also include Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and Michael Eitan, minister for the improvement of government services.

"We will listen to everyone," Netanyahu said at a government meeting Sunday. "We won't be able to please everyone, but we will have a real dialogue," he said. His spokesman, Gidi Shmerling, told Army Radio the team's conclusions will be made public in one month.

Haaretz has learned that Netanyahu was hard pressed to find experts from outside the government. During the past week he personally called economists from both the academic and private sectors in an effort to convince them to join the team.

According to sources in Netanyahu's office, the team will focus on lowering the costs of living, limiting monopolies, reducing indirect taxes, tacking the bureaucracy in the housing market and putting into effect the national housing committees law.

The protest organizers - a loosely organized group of young Israelis stunned by the mass response to their complaints - have called for a million-person march in 50 cities across the country on Sept. 3. While they have sought to steer clear from appearing political in their calls for reform, the mass rallies have given voice to the growing wealth disparity in the country and what critics contend is an inequitable distribution of government resources.