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A war on the cost of living? In the meantime, the finance minister is "irritated" with the prime minister - voila! money


Highlights: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has established a committee on the cost of living. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich did not attend the first meeting of the committee. Israel is on the brink of a deep economic crisis, writes Reuven Castro. Castro says there is a hand-wringing over which committee will be set the agenda for the next meeting. He says Netanyahu is necessary, but his finance minister is not, creating a "strange hierarchy" in the government."It's so delicious and simple: recipe for caramelized bananas"

While Netanyahu goes out of his way to show that he is struggling with the cost of living, his finance minister was insulted and did not show up for the first meeting of the committee he initiated, on the grounds that it was just a "start-up" move

Netanyahu and Smotrich at the cabinet meeting at which the prime minister announced the establishment of a committee on the cost of living. The finance minister was insulted and "breezed" from the first meeting (photo: photo processing, Jonathan Zindel, Flash 90)

On Sunday, the Cabinet approved the establishment of the Ministerial Committee on the Cost of Living, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which will include 13 Israeli government ministers, headed by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

That same evening, Netanyahu's office sent an urgent invitation, from now on, to all members of the committee to attend the first meeting the next morning. Most of the ministers were present, but there were also a few absent: the most important of them, for the matter at hand, is Economy Minister Nir Barkat.

Only Barkat was abroad, which wouldn't have allowed him to arrive on time. The Minister of the Interior and Health, Moshe Arbel, was also absent, but at least he could argue in his defense that when you are in charge of two large ministries, it is a bit difficult to make last-minute changes to the schedule. Who else is missing? Tourism Minister Haim Katz is also "because of previous commitments." As for the latter two, it's not that they're unimportant, but their bearing on the issue of the cost of living is relatively minimal.

Conspicuous by his absence was Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who was in Israel, and even in his office in Jerusalem, but chose not to attend a discussion on the most critical issue for Israeli citizens, on the brink of a deep economic crisis.

We contacted the minister's office to find out why he did not attend the discussion, which was convened by an urgent and direct invitation from the prime minister, and received a reply that left us speechless: "This is only a kick-off meeting and the transfer of information, and in any case no decisions were made there. The director general of the ministry and the head of the budget department were there, so the minister's presence was not necessary."

Got it? Netanyahu is necessary, but his finance minister is not. There is a strange hierarchy in government.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: He made efforts to convince the media that this time his committee was serious, but then discovered that his finance minister had more important occupations (screenshot, none)

A ringing slap to Netanyahu

To understand the magnitude of the hour: Suppose the State of Israel were on the verge of war, enemy forces were deployed on the border, and the prime minister convened the security cabinet for an urgent discussion. Would the defense minister dare to send the director general of his ministry there instead, because this is only an informative update and in any case no critical decisions will be made there?

It is reasonable to assume that if such a thing had happened, the prime minister would have sent him home at that moment. But at the height of a national economic crisis, instead of Smotrich leading the discussion, listening attentively to every word that comes out of the mouths of professionals and preparing an orderly strategic plan for dealing with the problem, he has more important occupations.

Moreover, the media treated the establishment of the committee with contempt – they had already stopped counting how many "committees to combat the cost of living" Netanyahu established during his entire tenure. The prime minister, for his part, was the one who made an effort to emphasize how serious the committee is and how determined he is to act on the issue that was his main election promise – so get such a slap in the face from the finance minister?

More in Walla!

It's so delicious and simple: recipe for caramelized bananas

In association with Galil

Whose committee is bigger and more important? The finance minister's or the prime minister's? Among the correct solvers will be a free ride to the OECD conference in Paris (Photo: Reuven Castro)

Who has a bigger committee?

It turns out that behind this thunderous absence, there is a hand-wringing competition between Smotrich and Netanyahu over which committee will set the agenda, that of the prime minister or that of the finance minister.

As noted, Netanyahu's Committee on the Cost of Living is the sixth established to deal with the issue. The one that preceded it and was announced about two weeks earlier is the professional expert committee for the war against monopolies and food giants, established by Smotrich - and includes more or less the same participants. By the way, the socioeconomic cabinet that was established when the government was established and convened only once since then, deals with exactly the same issues and its composition is identical...

Immediately after the government's decision, but even before the urgent meeting was called, Smotrich tried to convene his committee early in order to outflank the prime minister's – and to be the first to hold the discussion on the issue, but with all due respect to the finance minister, Netanyahu's office was more agile and determined and thwarted the initiative even before it got off the ground.

Thus Smotrich found himself with a worthless committee and without the festive announcements and potential photographs that could have come out of it.

The finance minister chose to express his dissatisfaction with the hijacking and decided not to appear before the committee in which he serves as acting chairman, that is, the person who is supposed to lead it if the prime minister is absent.

It is astonishing to discover once again that the Minister of Finance, referred to by some of his ministry officials as "the absent minister," saw no need to show himself where he needed to be (this time because of "account closure" and in the past because of Passover cleaning, unnecessary trips abroad and dealing with matters unrelated to the Ministry of Finance).

The Finance Minister is expected to understand that the struggle against the cost of living is an important enough issue to rise above the damaged ego, especially at a time when Israeli citizens are falling between the committees and supermarket prices are only soaring.

If anyone thought that the finance minister had learned a lesson and would rush to convene "his" committee this morning in order to give a decisive answer to Netanyahu's initiatives and prove that he intends to roll up his sleeves and not let go until the cost of living realizes that there is a determined opponent against him, he is of course mistaken. Today Smotrich took off for the OECD conference in Paris for a visit that will last several days.

We checked a bit what his predecessors did and found that neither Israel Katz nor Avigdor Lieberman flew there.
The press release stated: "The minister will participate in many discussions, hold meetings with senior OECD officials, and on the sidelines of the conference will hold meetings with international companies and local investors interested in entering the Israeli market, as part of the effort to lower the cost of living."

Despite the explosive headline, the minister's office did not publish the exact schedule, and probably for good reason: during his last visit to Paris, no international business entity was interested in meeting with Smotrich, and it is doubtful that this will happen this time either.

Smotrich's office saidthere was no contradiction between the committees. The prime minister and finance minister are partners in the process and held three meetings on the issue, including one this week. The committee headed by the Minister of Finance did not convene because of a procedural issue of acceptance of the letters of appointment.

  • money
  • news


  • Cost of Living
  • Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Bezalel Smotrich

Source: walla

All business articles on 2023-06-06

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