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Israel’s public agenda shifts back to security

Israeli citizens are experiencing their first real security threat since the social protests of 2011, threatening to turn the national priorities from socioeconomics and social justice back to security.
Israel's Finance Minister Yair Lapid gestures as he attends the opening of the summer session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem April 22, 2013. Lapid is seeking spending cuts of 18 billion shekels ($5 billion) and tax increases of 5 billion shekels as part of the 2013-2014 budget framework, a spokeswoman for Lapid said on Monday. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTXYVX6
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A heated fight is taking place these days in the Knesset’s Finance Committee, very much beneath the public radar, largely because of the fighting in Gaza. This battle calls into question the ability of Finance Minister Yair Lapid to enact one of the signature decisions of his term as minister so far: approval of the law to exempt buyers of a first apartment from paying a value-added tax (VAT) by Sept. 1.

On July 31, the Knesset will begin its summer recess. The “Zero VAT Law,” which should be Lapid’s greatest accomplishment for the next elections, is still stuck in the Finance Committee, waiting for approval in its second and third reading. The chairman of the committee, Knesset member Nissan Slomiansky of HaBayit HaYehudi, is heaping obstacles before the approval process of the bill, especially with the head of his party, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, busy plotting in the background. Once a close ally of Lapid, Bennett has since become one of his major rivals. Knowing that Lapid is under a lot of pressure, Bennett is taking advantage of that to get more money for the settlements, or so say other members of the Finance Committee.

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