Netanyahu Fails to Amass Cabinet Backing for Trajtenberg Report

Planned vote on findings of committee for socioeconomic reform canceled following day-long negotiations with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who opposes the report.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to pass the recommendations of a governmental panel on socioeconomic change in the government on Monday, after apparently not being able to garner the required cabinet majority.

Monday's vote on the Trajtenberg Committee's final report came following a turbulent 24 hours, as Netanyahu alternated between a discussion of the report or a vote to authorize the panel's findings.

Netanyahu and Trajtenberg - Government Press Office - September 2011
Government Press Office

On Sunday, Netanyahu said in a Likud ministers’ meeting that he will be bringing the Trajtenberg Committee’s report to a cabinet vote on Monday, despite his office’s announcement stating otherwise.

An earlier statement by the prime minister’s office on Sunday indicated that the government would debate, but not vote on the social reform panel's recommendations due to objections from the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party and ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

However, Netanyahu said on Monday that the socioeconomic forum, a smaller group of ministers, would discuss the recommendations further, after which it would be possible to add in additional changes and recommendations as needed.

Eventually, Netanyahu was forced to hold a cabinet discussion on the Trajtenberg report, apparently after not being able to garner the required majority.

Sources said that while Netanyahu had 13 Likud ministers potentially willing to vote to approve the Trajtenberg report, he faced opposition from 2 Likud ministers – Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom and Minister without portfolio Yossi Peled – as well as from 5 Yisrael Beiteinu ministers, and four from the Shas and Atzmaut factions. The position of Habayit Hayehudi chairman Daniel Hershkowitz was not yet clear.

The cabinet discussion of the Trajtenberg Committee's findings began at 10 A.M. Monday, and lasted, but for a short interval in which Netanyahu met U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, until the late evening hours.

Throughout the day, while Trajtenberg Committee members presented the panel's findings, Netanyahu and his aides held negotiations with the several factions, especially on the phone with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who is on a visit to the Ukraine.

A statement by the Prime Minister's Office said that the premier was "convinced he will be able to garner a majority for an essential change in Israel's national priorities," adding that a "change of this magnitude is no ordinary feat, but the PM is convinced he can get the majority."