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Finally, a Government That Will Work for Us

Nehemia Shtrasler
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People in a Tel Aviv cafe, last week.
People in a Tel Aviv cafe, last week.Credit: Hadas Parush
Nehemia Shtrasler

This is a festive day, a day when a government of change has finally been formed. This is a day when Benjamin Netanyahu is paying the price for his lies, his incitement, the setting of one sector against another and his violation of agreements. The fraudster has been exposed and no one believes him anymore.

The government of change is actually a government of mending and healing. It is exceptionally diverse. It consists of parties on the right, left and center of the map, and for the first time in the state’s history, it includes an Arab party, a huge achievement.

This is a government that will not work just for the benefit of one person, a person whose only aim is to escape justice. It’s true that there now will be immense pressure brought to bear on two Yamina lawmakers so that they vote against this government, but it won’t help. To form a government, a simple majority of the lawmakers voting is required, not 61 Knesset members, and such a majority is at hand in any case. It’s unlikely that the Joint List will vote with Likud to foil the establishment of the new government. It’s more probable that it will abstain, which will allow the new government to take off.

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Flowers should be sent first of all to Yair Lapid, who truly put his ego aside, succeeding in this complex venture. Along with him one should favorably note Avigdor Lieberman, who was the first, back in 2019, to prevent Netanyahu from forming a government. Lieberman is thus the “slayer of the king.”

He is also extremely lucky. Legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte once said that he wasn’t looking for talented or wise generals, only for lucky ones. Lieberman, the next finance minister, has plenty of luck. He will assume his post at the best possible moment, with the economy in a deep pit but showing the first signs of recovery. Thus, if he adopts a bold, correct policy, he’ll lead the economy to rapid growth, which will be credited to him.

Heralding the improvement in economic activity is the expected drop in the state deficit. In 2020 there was an immense deficit, amounting to 160 billion shekels ($49 billion), caused by a spending spree initiated by the local Herod (Finance Minister Yisrael Katz). In 2021, the deficit will apparently drop to 100 billion, since people are returning to work, which will increase tax revenues along with the decreased coronavirus-related outlays. Lieberman plans to reduce the deficit to 35 billion shekels within two to three years, which will reduce the heavy debt accumulated by Herod.

Another positive figure relates to unemployment, which dropped to 6.7 percent in the first half of May. This translates to 267,000 unemployed people. In addition to them are 130,000 people on unpaid leave, people who are not working by choice. Here, a sharp turn in policy is expected. Whereas Herod conducted a populist policy of bestowing benefits to the nation such as by trying to extend the period of such leaves, Lieberman plans to terminate them by the end of June.

The economy has over 100,000 jobs waiting for these people. When these are not taken, some factories work at only half-capacity, a situation that also applies to restaurants, shops and other businesses. Therefore, anyone striving to achieve growth must terminate these unpaid leaves. This is something Lieberman wants.

He will have to undertake some important reforms and structural changes, as well as increasing investments in infrastructure, if he wants to attain a rapid 5 percent annual growth rate. His subscribes to a free and competitive economy, and he believes that when growth is rapid, everyone wins, including the weaker sectors. It’s still hard to imagine, but we are the end of the Netanyahu era. As soon as he leaves the official residence at Balfour Street, a sigh of relief will be heard from one end of the country to the other. Hatred will subside, polarization will decline and courts and economic activity will return to functioning normally. Suddenly, we’ll see that there are other politicians, ones who work for this country’s citizens, not only for themselves.

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