Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bye Bye Bi Bi

Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu's resignation is equally surprising and predictable. The Jerusalem Post's question "Why is Bibi still in the government?" summed it up well - at odds with Prime Minister Sharon over the disengagement, the fact that he hadn't put his money where his mouth is up until now was troubling to say the least.

At the same time however, since being appointed to the post of Finance Minister, Bibi has done sterling work in righting Israel's beleauguered economy. Lauded by many as one of the country's finest Finance Ministers, he has brought about a major reform in taxation, taken on the unions and the banks and set things in motion to drag many of Israel's more arcane and stifling regulations into the 21st century. His resignation was predictably followed by a major dip in the markets which show just how highly he is regarded by those who understand these matters a lot better than those of us who merely appreciate that our salary slips are a little bigger since he set to work.

Staying in a job being done well was a smart thing to do up to a point but at the same time, in order to nurture the political support of the right wing it was important for him to disengage from Sharon before Sharon began to disengage from Gaza.

The crux of the matter of course, is that Bibi isn't happy with the Finance Minister's job - he has bigger fish to fry, his resignation marking the starting point for his campaign for the top job - and therein lies a dilemna - for Bibi, extremely effective as Israel's most screen friendly spokesman and as guardian of the purse strings, made a pretty bad Prime Minister - not as bad as the right-hating media made out, but bad enough for the public to hound him out of office under slogans such as "Anyone but Bibi".

Bibi's move is cool and calculated - he has shown the PM and the public just how important he is for Israel's economic health whilst at the same time sending a message of support to those who will put him back into the Prime Minister's chair - albeit to late to prevent the disengagement from going ahead. One cannot help but feel however, that it is the wrong chair for him right now - that he is better suited to play Gordon Brown than the Tony Blair role in this particular drama.



A said...

If Bibi was such a great Finance Minister why has the number of poor people in this country increased year on year through out his time. In fact in the last year an additional 80,000 dropped below the poverty line according to National Insurance Institute figures. The grand total of 1.5 million (or 25% of the population) includes 652,000 children. This figure is set to rise and not fall in the future.,7340,L-3123650,00.html

Gilly said...

A, I could write an answer in the comments but I think I'll write a post on it instead. Give me a couple of days to read the report.


Anonymous said...

Look, I can accept in 21st century Israel some people are going to be worse off than others- we aren’t living on one big kibbutz. I can even understand (although I disagree with it) that in times of recession there may be a need for limited cuts to social services which will naturally hurt the worst off. But what is utterly unacceptable is the systematic demonisation of the weakest sectors of society by Bibi (and his predecessor Silvan Shalom) as a matter of policy.

The other thing that gets me with this whole thing is how everyone is so surprised, “helem b’olam ha’politi” they said on the radio yesterday. It was so bleedin’ obvious, including the timing, he can now pander to the right of the Likud central committee before the leadership elections in the run up to next year’s election. The only calculation was regarding Bibi’s political future, the state of the economy had nothing to do with it.

Yellow Boy

PS "Israel's most screen friendly spokesman"?!?!?! Don’t make me laugh.

Nushyman said...

The fact that he has done it now just proves what a slimeball he always was and always will be. I have never like Bibi and I think his resignation is a political stunt that will probably have the right veering away from him just as much as the left have and do. It does not surprise me that he has jumped ship now - good riddance to bad rubbish!

Anonymous said...

There is a large segment of the population that is not interested in working and in fact planned their life around transfer payments. Charedi society in Israel advocates that the men should sit and learn and not work. In addition they have very large families (5+ children is the norm) Before Bibi, the child payments plus other benefits were quite high. If you live like that you are setting yourself up to be poor and the taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize that kind of lifestyle. The Arab sector also has poverty problems for different reasons.

In short, Bibi has put the economy on a much surer footing.

Gilly said...

Yellow - if all Israel's spokesman were as media savvy as Bibi we'd be in a far better shape - name me someone better.


tafka PP said...

Glad your salary slip got a little bigger- his "reign" had the opposite effect on mine!