Israeli Cabinet Approves Recommendations of Socioeconomic Panel

Trajtenberg recommendations approved by large majority with 21 ministers in support and eight ministers opposed.

Israel's cabinet approved Sunday the recommendations of the Trajtenberg committee on socioeconomic change, which was spurred by months of nationwide social protests.

The recommendations were supported by 21 ministers, while only eight ministers opposed.

Benjamin Netanyahu -  Emil Salman - 05092011
Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed satisfaction with the vote.

"I promised and fulfilled my promise," he said at the end of the cabinet vote. "The Trajtenberg report is good for Israeli citizens. It lowers the cost of living, increases disposable income, makes housing more accessable and funds a significant portion of preschool education."

Daphne Leef, one of the social protest leaders, was dismayed by the government’s decision to adopt the Trajtenberg Committee’s report. “If the reason we took to the streets in the first place was the housing crisis, why hasn’t the government proposed a significant solution for this?” Leef asked on Sunday.

“Where is the public housing? The affordable housing?” Leef exclaimed. She went on to lament the fact that while in other countries, governments have gotten involved in the housing market to ensure affordable housing for its constituents, the report is merely a continuation of the same policies that created the housing crisis in the first place.

Opposition party Kadima was also far from thrilled with the decision to adopt the report, saying in a statement Sunday that the socioeconomic committee’s recommendations do not reflect the new priorities that Israeli citizens have justifiably demanded.

MK Shelly Yachimovich, newly appointed head of Labor, criticized the report as well, calling it a “pathetic decision”.

“This is a pathetic decision and the government essentially voted for a new set of laws made up of recommendations pulled from whatever was available; some of it is very harmful, some of it is little more than the recycling of preexisting decisions and a large portion of it will never be acted upon.”

Earlier Sunday, a deal was struck between the Prime Minister’s Office and Yisrael Beiteinu regarding the Trajtenberg report.

The hardline political party, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and which originally opposed Trajtenberg’s recommendations, said that it would change its stance in return for public housing benefits as well those for newly-released soldiers.

Sunday’s deal comes on the heels Netanyahu failure to pass the recommendations of a governmental panel on socioeconomic change in the government earlier last week, after apparently not being able to garner the required cabinet majority.

The committee on socioeconomic change, headed by former chairman of the National Economic Council Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, was appointed by the government following months of nationwide social protests in Israel. The leaders of the social protest have in the past rejected the Trajtenberg committee and its various recommendations.