The Knesset Plenum rejected a point of order proposed by MK Itzik Shmuli (Israel Labor Party) that would have established a parliamentary committee of inquiry to investigate the deterioration of the poverty rate. In the proposal`s explanation, Shmuli pointed out that according to a new report from the OECD, the poverty rate in Israel is the highest amongst member countries; 20.9% compared to average of 11.1%. Furthermore, a report published by the National Insurance Institute of Israel warned that after the 2013-2014 budget cuts, 90,000 more people will drop below the poverty line. Therefore, considering the current harsh reality, Shmuli contended that it makes sense to establish a parliamentary committee of inquiry in order to study the deterioration of the poverty rate in Israel as well as to discuss ways to immediately reduce the rate.
During the debate about the point of order, Shmuli added that soon a quarter of the Israeli population will be impoverished, along with one out of every three children. He remarked that, ”90,000 people are about to join the cycle of poverty, including 35,000 children,” even though 65% of the poor are working. He also charged that the public is angry and feels deceived because of the negative steps of the government. He said that the way to approach the problem needs to be thorough and consistent. He warned that if solutions are not found, we will all be affected by the cuts and the economic policies and in a few years we will ask, ”Where was the Knesset?”
The Deputy Minister of Finance, MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) responded that experience and results impart upon us that the correct policy for shrinking societal gaps is finding full-time employment for both members of a couple. The value of providing social services over monetary allowances is twofold: One, it increases household income and two; social services help to achieve additional societal goals like a raise in the employment rate. He said ”I don`t think that the solution is to establish a parliamentary committee of inquiry.”