Netanyahu Promises Social Justice, Zeroes In on Foods

YERUSHALAYIM -

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu kicked off his re-election campaign with a promise of zero VAT on staple foods, an answer to Yair Lapid’s zero VAT plan for housing buys, which he opposes.

Speaking at a Globes-sponsored Business Conference, Netanyahu said that instead of the selective VAT tax exemption he would back a proposal to double the housing grant to discharged soldiers.

Netanyahu knocked the Lapid plan as “a benefit that would have been given to between 9,000 and 14,000 people at most. Generally we’re speaking about people from comfortably-off families that can afford to pay hundreds of thousands of shekels.

These families would have received a benefit of NIS 200,000. There’s no logic to it.”

His alternative is “zero VAT on basic food products under supervision, and that is a benefit that will reach millions of people.

That is the most basic need of most people — bread, milk, eggs. This plan will let us save hundreds of thousands of shekels a year. It means an immediate 15% reduction in the price of supervised foods and all this reduction will reach consumers, and the more disadvantaged a family is, then the more significant is the saving. That’s social justice.”

Later on Monday, Lapid responded, accusing his ex-boss of flip-flopping, suddenly proposing VAT exemptions on food, just a month after opposing such a measure.

A Kamil Fox poll just out might help to explain the sudden concern for social justice. A whopping 48 percent of the Israeli public says that cost of living issues will be most on their minds when they go to the polls in March.

By contrast, only 18 percent said they will give priority to security issues (quite surprising in light of the wave of Palestinian terror). Fifteen percent said they were most interested in helping to determine the next prime minister; 10 percent put state-religion issues first and 5 percent held the diplomatic stagnation to be a priority.