Kadima Leading Assault on Drought Tax

The Kadima party has set itself a new goal - to abolish the recently imposed "drought tax," which is actually a differential water tariff that depends on usage: The price per cubic meter of water jumps drastically over a certain quota.

The government initiated the policy in order to encourage people to be economical in their use of water. But as of next week, Kadima activists will be signing people onto a petition against the water levy and handing out stickers that read "Give up, Bibi. Abolish the tax." The sticker was unveiled yesterday at a rally against the water levy, which was attended by 16 Knesset members belonging to Kadima.

The party, headed by Tzipi Livni, has also prepared a video clip against the tax, called "Israel is ashamed" (mitbayeshet) - a play on words that mocks the Water Authority's clip called "Israel is drying up" (mityabeshet), which calls on people to save water. Kadima's clip even stars the same actress that the government used, Renana Raz.

The text of the clip is: "What do we want? To shower, wash dishes and drink water. But Bibi [Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu] doesn't care, which is why Israel is ashamed. Bibi, abolish the drought tax."

Livni, who is also leader of the opposition, declared at yesterday's conference that Kadima is firing the first shot. "We shall not rest until the tax is abolished," she said. "Ultimately, the tax will be canceled. Water isn't a luxury. It isn't a product for the rich."

She added that Netanyahu, who had vowed to cut taxes, has instead been raising them under various "weird" guises.

The drought tax won't solve Israel's problem, which is that it doesn't have enough water, Livni said. "And the tax is unjust, because some people can afford to pay it and some can't. It imposes a burden on the citizen's basic need to use water. The public can't live with it."

Kadima faction chairman Dalia Itzik vowed that the party will mobilize a grass-roots campaign. "I believe the people think the levy is unjust and that Benjamin Netanyahu is doing wrong by the citizens," she said. "It isn't a disgrace to retreat. It's better to reverse in time and say, 'I was wrong.'"

As of next week, Itzik said, Kadima will go door to door collecting signatures on the petition until the prime minister admits his mistake.

In response, MK Ofir Akunis (Likud) said that Kadima has been trampling over every parliamentary law and regulation. "The party that waved the flag of 'clean politics' is positioning itself as a hypocritical party that is lowering the tone of public debate for the sake of headlines," he said.

Akunis said he has complained about Kadima to the Knesset's ethics committee.