Press Release

High Cost of Living | Eli Hurvitz Conference

The first day of the Eli Hurvitz Conference

High Cost of Living in Israel Addressed at the Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society

Avigdor Liberman | Credit: Oded Karni

The first day of IDI’s Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society continued today in Jerusalem with a session dedicated to the high cost of living in Israel. Speakers included business leaders, government officials and civil society activists.

Arnon Bar-David, Chair, Histadrut Labor Federation - "The judicial overhaul is permeating and harming Israel’s economy, and poisoning everything we know. As a result, Israel is working without a plan. It is difficult to point to one government ministry that is promoting correct reforms and is in control of the situation. On the contrary - I see a lack of action and a focus on what is not important."

Dubi Amitai, Chair, Business Sector Presidium - "The economy longs for economic leadership that will produce engines of growth and not just talk. In the Knesset committees, proposals from the Ministry of Finance are rolling out that do not correspond with the recommendations of the professionals. We do not need to reinvent the wheel."

Dr. Ron Tomer, President, Manufacturers Association of Israel; Chair, Organization of Businesses and Employers in Israel; Industrialist – “We must not ignore that under the current situation, the Israeli economy is becoming one of the least convenient economies in the world for doing business. Aggressive government initiatives add to the motivation of investors and entrepreneurs not to operate in Israel. So many companies don't want to be here. If food companies hear that their investment plans have been stopped, the situation is not good.”

“We are going to face waves of mass layoffs because everyone will have to downsize. It's expensive in Israel because the government monopolies profit on our backs."

MK Avigdor Liberman, Chair, Yisrael Beitenu – “I am in favor of judicial reform, but I do not see judicial reform, rather regime coup and personal legislation. Uncertainty hurts the economy. Any attempt to procrastinate - hurts the economy. This government has created negative incentives to go to work: when they raise the stipends for yeshiva students, when they double the yeshiva budget, when they almost reduce public transportation rates for the ultra-Orthodox sector - so why should anyone go to work? When you lose the confidence of investors, when there is no certainty and when you give negative incentives to go to work - there will be no other result. The entire economic environment in Israel is negative. The government's priorities conveys failure."

Shachar Turjeman, Chair of the Board, the Brill Group; Chairman, Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce – “The successive governments of Israel are to blame for the high cost of living. In a despicable way, the government places the blame on the business sector even though they know that the blame lies at their door. The government sets the prices of water, gas and electricity. The state collects VAT, while in the rest of the world it is differential".

Uri Kilstein, CEO of Carrefour - “In Israel, only 6.5% are non-brand small businesses, compared to 35% in Europe. That’s the meaning of industry concentration. If you make a change in Israel from 6.5% to 35% you’ll reduce prices by 10%.”

Linor Deutsch, Founding Partner and CEO, Lobby 99 - “The prices keep rising. Why? Because five large monopolies own 40% of the food market in Israel. The problem of industry centralization is the result of many years and until it’s dealt with honestly and bravely, everything else is just talk.”

The annual Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society—formerly the Caesarea Economic Policy Planning Forum—is widely recognized as Israel's most influential economic conference. For 30 years, the Conference has served as a crossroads where public discourse and professional knowledge in economics and society meet, with the aim of improving the decision-making processes in the administration and improving the quality of Israel's social and economic policy for the benefit of the entire public. This year’s conference (May 30-31) includes the participation of ministers and Knesset members, directors-general of government ministries and senior leaders from civil society, academia, as well as the public and private sectors.

A series of team-led research and policy recommendations on issues closely related to the conference sessions will be presented during the conference at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem and online on IDI's website.