Shimon Sheves: The Israeli Middle Class Protests Must End With New Political Ruling Party

The protesters insist on a complete change in the national economic and political priorities. According to Shimon Sheves, Former Director General of the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, the solution lies in the establishment of a new political party.
By: Tom Allan- A freelance writer and editor
Shimon Sheves
Shimon Sheves
Oct. 6, 2011 - PRLog -- In order for the current wave of protests that has been rocking Israel these past few weeks to come to an end, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to go through a radical change. Basically, Netanyahu will have to forgo the economic ideology that has guided him throughout his life. These are the words of Professor Trachtenberg, appointed by Netanyahu himself to head an expert committee that is supposed to recommend solutions to the crisis. Netanyahu has responded to Trachtenberg's comments that he was, in fact, ready to make significant changes in his views and economic priorities.

A leopard never changes its spots, but will Netanyahu change his ways? Former Director General of the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, Shimon Sheves, is convinced this is impossible.  "The Netanyahu-Shas-Lieberman coalition will not bring about a change in priorities," he says, "and for a very simple reason – this kind of change requires taking money from the settlements. Does anyone believe Netanyahu, and Lieberman will do that"?

On the other hand, Shimon Sheves  does not have much faith in the opposition either. He elaborated on that in a lecture  in front of students from the Tel Aviv University. "In an extensive poll carried out by a leading American polling institution, it has been determined that Israelis have now almost no partisan fidelity," he explained. "A few years ago the undecided voters were between 10-15 percent, and today that rate has jumped to about 60 percent. This means that there are 70 Knesset seats that can go either way. This is incredible, and it means that there is a disconnect between the protests and the existing political parties, because more than 50 percent of Israelis have no one to vote for."

Strategic Changes

There is only one conclusion: the problems that have caused the protesters to march in the streets can be solved by neither the coalition nor the opposition. The only viable solution, according to Sheves, is the establishment of a new political party that will lead to the formation of a new coalition that will do more than just play musical chairs, but rather make  a strategic change in national priorities. These changes need to include, among others, cuts in the security budget and moving budgets from the settlements for the benefit of Israel's outlying areas within the 67 borders. This would be the only way to resolve the social problems that exist in Israel, without getting into debt.

It's important to note that Sheves speaks from experience. During the time he ran the late Yizhak Rabin's Prime Minister's Office, substantial amounts of money were moved from the settlements in order to finance infrastructure in the outlying areas, improve the healthcare services, the education system and the problem of housing. Not only did these actions not increase the deficit, it had in fact decreased inflation and cut the unemployment rate. "If this was done before it can surely be done again," stated Sheves, and then added: "it can only be achieved by a new political party that will be willing to go all the way."

Even though Sheves supports extensive economic reform, one cannot brand him as a radical socialist. He is an active participant in the capitalist game, and in the past few years has been serving as an advisor to large multi-national corporations, on top of his work as a political and economic advisor to several governments.

The Tent Dwellers Need to Act Fast

Sheves supports the protests, but he is concerned as far as  the decision-making of its organizers goes. "Handing the government a list of demands is wrong and will bring about the end of this revolt," Sheves warned the students. "It takes time to produce such a list, and during that time it will start raining, a new Intifada will break out, and people will demand Israelis to stay united – and poof! There goes the radical change that is needed. Sadly, this will result in nothing but cosmetic changes. It's a grave error, because it's not what the protests are about, they are about something larger, and we cannot miss this opportunity.

"This is a popular revolt, not protests organized by people who eat sushi," summarized Sheves, referring to the words of a mayor from the ruling Likud party regarding the tent dwellers. "There is a lot of bitterness, and a significant part of the population has no partisan affiliation. These protests have to end with a new political movement. If the protesters put their faiths in Bibi or Barak, they will be wasting their time. These two will soon divert the public's attention to the issues we have with the Palestinians. A war could soon break out, and the colorful Rothschild Boulevard tents will be replaced by army tents of a single green color. Now is the time to make sure this doesn't happen."

For more information: read about Shimon Sheves

Source:Tom Allan- A freelance writer and editor
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