In an interview broadcast last night on Channel 2 News, Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon said that he was adamantly opposed to the "French law", the bill that would bar criminal investigations of incumbent Israeli prime ministers (in a way similar to the law applying to investigations of presidents of France), and repeated his promise to lower housing prices. Kahlon also said that he would not be part of a coalition headed by Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay.
Kahlon rejected criticism that he had so far failed to bring down housing prices, with prices having risen 4% in the past year. "It's succeeding, and succeeding very well," he said. "This year it will be much less, a 2-3% rise at most. The data show a standstill, and that young couple believe in the Buyer Price program. Today, eighteen months after we started the program, people are already occupying the homes. You have to start somewhere. What was done for them for twenty years? Building a home takes time."
Kahlon spoke about his new tax plan, saying that he intended to reduce income tax for people earning over NIS 10,000 monthly in order to lower the cost of living. "Our intention is to lower takes in order to help with the cost of living, and the second thing is to cut taxes for the middle class which really is collapsing under the burden and paying a lot of tax. We need to help them," he said, adding that the next goal was to reduce prices of imported products.
Kahlon criticized his predecessor Yair Lapid for having accepted the advice of Governor of the Bank of Israel Karnit Flug not to lower taxes, and declared that he would carry out the plan, even if Flug opposed it. "I'm sorry that the [previous] minister of finance accepted her advice, which turned out to be wrong. I have not accepted her advice, and do not intend to do so. I do intend to lower taxes. I am the minister of finance, the public entrusted me with making the decisions. The responsibility is mine."
On the tax on owners of three or more dwellings, which was struck down by the High Court of Justice on the grounds of procedural flaws in the Knesset, Kahlon said, "I am returning the law to the Knesset as is, with no changes. We have a coalition and a government and if they don’t go my way, I won’t go their way, there's no one way street. We have coalition agreements; they are obligated to support all my housing plans."
Kahlon also commented on legislative initiatives being put forward relating to the investigations of the affairs of the prime minister. "No bill relating to individuals will pass, and I am happy that the prime minister too has given up on this. He did the right thing. The bill will not come back."
Nevertheless, Kahlon said that he was in favor of a bill forbidding the police to recommend indictments at the end of an investigation. "This is a bill that says that Israel Police should conclude its work in the most professional manner, and transfer the file to the State Attorney's Office. That is the right way. I will support the bill after it has been worked on in isolation from the investigations of the prime minister."
Kahlon said in the interview that he would not serve in a coalition under Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay, who left his Kulanu party less than a year ago. "I can quite definitely say: Kulanu will not be a fig leaf in a left-wing government. I belong to the nationalist camp, unlike the Labor Party or what leads it. I opposed the disengagement [from Gaza] and I am for the Land of Israel and a united Jerusalem. I therefore see no situation in which Kulanu would join a left-wing government of the Labor Party."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 5, 2017
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