TEL AVIV — Moshe Feiglin, chairman of Israel’s Zehut Party, said in an interview that he is planning to request the Finance Ministry portfolio as part of his conditions for joining a government coalition after next week’s elections here.
“The first ministry that we are planning to ask for is the Ministry of Finance,” stated Feiglin, whose Zehut Party is widely expected to play a key role in determining the next coalition. “And the reason is because we want to have a free market in Israel.”
Feiglin discussed his party’s economic platform, which calls for a transition to a flat tax system, a significant lowering of the corporate tax rate, relief from customs and import quotas and major cuts in regulation to start businesses, among other sweeping proposals.
The Israeli politician was speaking in an interview set to air on this reporter’s weekend talk radio program “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and NewsTalk 990 AM in Philadelphia.
Feiglin stated: “Our goal is to get into the system of flat taxation as low as can be. We want to deregulate the market. We want to be able to import freely and export freely. Basically what we are looking for is a situation across the economy similar to the one that we reached with the hi-tech market in Israel, which is basically a free market.”
“We want to reach the same achievements in other circles of the Israeli economy. Small businesses in Israel for example are marked as one of the most problematic markets in the world. It is easier even to start a business in Turkey than in Tel Aviv.”
Feiglin argued that “huge government” in Israel has been keeping some economic resources from the pocket of the average Israeli.
“The bottom line is that the average young Israeli is working more hours than any other person in the West. He is making less money than any other person in the West. He is paying more for everything that he buys than everyone else in the West. And he has no chance to have enough money to buy himself an apartment at any point in his life unless somebody else gives him the money. That situation needs to end. Israelis understand that.”
“Overall, the Israeli economy is doing very well,” he added. “Part of our problem is that we have a huge government. We really need to cut government expenses and bureaucracy a lot. To save that money and keep it in the economy and into the pocket of the Israeli worker.”
In another interview with this reporter, Feiglin recently discussed specific plans to address the longstanding housing crisis that has been plaguing Israelis, a scenario in which construction here is hampered by a massive amount of bureaucracy and the average cost of an apartment makes purchasing a home difficult for a large segment of the population. In some areas, bureaucratic holdups have contributed to housing shortages.
The Israeli politician posits that Israeli housing woes are fueled by a low supply of residential land due to what he described as the state’s “monopoly” over the land. Feiglin points out accurately that a full 93% of all land in Israel is registered to the Israel Land Authority. He notes that government regulation makes purchasing land and obtaining construction permits extremely difficult.
To address the issue, Feiglin’s Zehut Party pushes a radical restructuring of the land-regulating industry in Israel starting with the dismantling of the Israel Land Authority itself and the transfer of vacant lands to the citizens for sale in the open market. Instead of the state disbursing land, local communities will “determine whether to restrict the designation of the land to industry, commerce, housing, agriculture,” Zehut’s extensive platform states.
The Zehut platform further calls for a massive reduction of regulations to obtain construction permits.
Feiglin’s surge in the polls the past four weeks sent shockwaves across the Israeli political arena amid widespread speculation that his party could be the ultimate kingmaker in the formation of the next government, determining which Israeli leader will be able to cobble together enough seats to form a majority coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finds himself facing a tight race from Benny Gantz, a former chief of the Israel Defense Forces. The next occupant of the prime minister’s office could be decided by the size of the smaller parties on the right or left endorsing either a Netanyahu or Gantz coalition.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.