Taking Finance Committee, Gafni says he’ll work to address cost of living

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Newly appointed head of the Knesset’s temporary Finance Committee Moshe Gafni says that he plans to convene the committee to discuss recent market moves affecting the cost of living.

The Bank of Israel announced its intention to raise the interest rate from its current 2.75 percent, with its next decision set for today. The move is intended to counter inflation, which sits at 5.1% over the past year, far over the 1-3% target set by the central bank.

“I heard that the governor of the Bank of Israel intends to raise the interest rate in the economy and the meaning is that the mortgage holders will pay more money. I intend to hold an extensive discussion on the matter as soon as possible,” says Gafni, moments after being confirmed in a return to the role he held before being ousted in June 2021.

The Finance Committee head also adds that he wants to hold discussions on climbing prices connected to supervised milk products, as well as “a large number of transfers and surpluses that came together on the committee’s table.”

Outgoing Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman worked closely with the Finance Committee’s former chair, Alex Kushnir, an MK from his Yisrael Beytenu party. Liberman and Gafni are bitter political enemies, stemming from disagreements on Haredi military enlistment, the role of religion in the state, workforce participation and sharing Israel’s economic burden, and core curriculum in education.

“There will be no finance minister telling me not to hold discussions on the critical social issues that belong to everyone,” says Gafni, in a barb thrown at Liberman. Under his former leadership, Gafni says, he ran the Finance Committee as a shared effort among Knesset factions.

“Everyone knew that here in the committee it is a different place from other places. Here, opposition and coalition work together, and do only what is good for the citizens of the State of Israel,” the newly returned chair says.

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