Under Netanyahu Israel's economy prospered while the rich grew fewer and richer and the poor grew increasingly poorer. Housing has long passed out of the range of the average citizen, rising 80% in 7 years. It now takes twice as many months' salary to buy a house in Israel than it does in France, the USA or Britain. Almost 1,000,000 children in the country -- one out of every three -- languish in poverty (Israel has the 4th highest child poverty rate in the developed world. Israel also has the highest rate of uneducated, unemployed youth (30.7%), well over Turkey's 25.5%).
The cost of living in Israel relative to disposable salaries is one of the highest in the OECD. Teachers and nurses salaries are the lowest while the medical system is collapsing for lack of funds and medical staff. Taxes on new vehicles are 78% of the purchase price, so that a Honda Civic which sells for some $16,000 in the US costs $33,000 in Israel. Petrol costs about $8 per gallon.
The average Israeli pays just over 20% income tax and just under 9% for national insurance. In addition, all purchases are subject to an 18% VAT, all totaling a tax burden just under 50%. An 8-ounce container of cottage cheese costs $1.68; a pound of hummus costs $4.54; 2 liters of orange juice — in a country that exports oranges — costs $6.54; 2 pounds of rice cost $1.94; and a 13-ounce container of Israeli Osem soup nuts costs $4.54 — more than it costs in American stores that import the soup nuts from Israel. A 6-ounce can of Israeli-made sunscreen spray costs some $40.
Mr. "Destroy Hamas" has conducted two indecisive conflicts with that organization and must now prepare for the third round, for which Hamas is openly positioning itself. Iran is ever closer to becoming a nuclear power while international support for Israel's opposition to such a process has waned and relations with the US Administration are unnecessarily strained. Mr "no compromise with terrorists" released more jailed Hamas Terrorists than any Israeli Prime Minister.
Israel ranks 24th out of 34 countries in the OECD Transparency Index and 37 in the Corruption Perceptions Index (100 being the best score possible) with senior Ministers of Government and senior government functionaries under police investigation. Many hundreds of millions of Shekels were allocated to Religious parties in order to secure their political support and Israel's stricken North and South were neglected while funds were surreptitiously channeled to West Bank settlements, in some cases in the form of grants to make up for municipal taxes lost due to the fact that projected housing was not built... His next Government is expected to include a felon convicted of embezzlement and a party leader who, with senior members of his party, has been under police investigation for corruption, while the Prime Minister himself, and his wife, are under investigation for misuse of public funds.
Enormous gas deposits discovered off Israel's shores are not being utilized because Netanyahu's Government twice reneged on agreements signed with international companies and, as a result, no international company is willing to negotiate with the present Government.
Increased Government-sponsored legislation has eroded democratic freedoms in the country, with the Prime Minister's office seeking control of the Israel Broadcasting Authority which controls Israel main radio and TV channels, a free daily newspaper distributed nation-wide in support of the Government and NGOs who dare oppose Governmental policies subjected to police and tax authority investigations as well as increasingly restrictive legislation.
The prospects of attaining a peace agreement with the Palestinians are almost nil, but Netanyahu's handling of this situation has only served to exacerbate tensions and make the outburst of renewed violence all the more likely. The Palestinians are being squeezed into increasingly smaller enclaves, their livelihood restricted by illegal settler attacks, military impositions and the withholding of taxes, with no hope of any kind for the future. A wiser, more productive leader would have found a way to enlist the support of the free world and to reduce frustration among the Palestinians
Netanyahu has gained a baneful reputation among international leaders as an inveterate liar, incapable of withstanding pressure, a machiavellian survivor rather than a visionary leader of his people. A growing number of his own political partners have expressed their disgust at his weakness and scores of Israeli military and security leaders have spoken out against him, decrying his policies and warning against his indecisiveness as well as his constant feeding on fear rather than vision.
All too many American Evangelical supporters of Netanyahu are motivated by the hope that he will fulfill their eschatological expectation; they have little regard for our lives and welfare here in Israel. We are mere pawns in their eschatological scheme of things. Their concern is not for us but the product of a fascination with purportedly end-time developments regardless of moral considerations. This is to divorce spirituality from holiness, the biblical message from moral standards. It is to empty the biblical message of the main part of its content, leaving an empty shell of supposed prediction. Biblical eschatology has to do with holiness, justice, righteousness and peace. Much of the radical support for Israel has all too few of these values in mind. That is to be greatly regretted