Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Finance Minister Dr. Yuval Shteinitz at the last moment, deciding to cut the planned gas hike to 5 agorot. The increase is still significant, and full service pumps will get 8 NIS a liter, the equivalent of $8.64 a gallon using the exchange rate of $1/3.7 NIS.
The thought of gasoline price climbing over 8 NIS resulted in an unprecedented public outcry along with protest. There was a protest in Tel Aviv on motzei Shabbos, with participants carrying signs referring to “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 10 plagues”.
Some analysts feel the prime minister decided to intervene due to the election of Shaul Mofaz to head the Kadima party instead of Tzipi Livni, aware that the new party leader poses a more serious challenge to the prime minister at the polls. Mofaz is an outspoken opponent of the current administration’s fiscal policies.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)