For the past three months, all of the Yesh Atid Knesset members have been traveling around the country presenting what we accomplished in our year and eight months in office and what we were in the process of doing when elections were called.
The following is a brief synopsis for those who we were not able to reach in person. Please click HERE to read a more complete list about our reforms in English and please click HERE to read our platform in English.
The following are some of the highlights followed by explanations. As a result of Yesh Atid’s laws and policies:
1)more haredim are serving in the IDF, more haredim are joining the workforce, and more haredi schools are teaching basic general studies.
2)the next government cannot have more than 18 ministers and 4 deputy ministers, the concept of “Minister without Portfolio” has been abolished, and further steps have been taken to combat government corruption.
3) one billion NIS was allocated to establish the first ever national program to aid Holocaust survivors and, as a result, Holocaust survivors can now live their senior years with the dignity they deserve.
4) after years of neglect, education became one of the government’s top priorities and numerous changes were made to improve the country’s education system.
5)small businesses have been put to the forefront of Israel’s economic plans.
6)Israel’s health system has been, and will continue to be, reformed leading to more efficient, user friendly and less expensive health services.
7)for the first time in many years, there is an actual plan in place to reduce the cost of housing in Israel.
This is the tip of the iceberg regarding what Yesh Atid accomplished in just a year and eight months in office. We ask for your support so we can continue where we left off and serve Israel and improve its future.
And now for the details:
1)As a result of Yesh Atid’s laws and policies, more haredim are serving in the IDF, more haredim are joining the workforce, and more haredi schools are teaching basic general studies.
Throughout the 2013 election campaign, candidates for the Yesh Atid party repeated a significant statistic – more than 50% of first graders in Israel are ultra-Orthodox or Arab. This is significant because it means that if the status quo persists, twelve years down the road a majority of graduating high school seniors will not view themselves as part of broader Israeli society. They won’t participate in national service, will not avail themselves of higher education, and will certainly lack the skill sets needed to enter the workforce and support their families with dignity. Well aware of what this would mean for our state, both on a value level and on an economic level, one of Yesh Atid’s major campaign promises addressed this reality.
The Supreme Court had demanded that the Knesset pass legislation regarding the issue of the ultra-Orthodox community and the military draft. We promised that if elected, we would create such a law and it would pass the test of equality which the courts demanded. We worked on the law for over a year and, in March 2014, the law passed its final reading in the Knesset. The law sets realistic annual goals for haredi enlistment in both army and national service programs. There was an increase of 39% in haredi recruits during the first year after the law was passed with many serving in new combat battalions which the IDF set up specifically for this population. In addition, Yesh Atid was responsible for obtaining defense ministry approval for the first time ever for the establishment of a haredi hesder yeshiva . This will serve as a major catalyst for haredi enlistment in the coming years. We are confident that the annual goals, determined with the input of rabbis from the community will continue to be met.
Increased numbers of haredim serving in the army and national service is not the most significant outcome of the law. Prior to the law’s passing, tens of thousands of haredim who had no sincere interest in remaining in yeshiva or kollel did so anyway because, since they never served, Israeli law prohibited them from joining the workforce while within potential draft years. The new law permits haredim ages 22 and over at the time of the law’s passage, to leave yeshiva and kollel to go to work even if they have not served. We made sure that 500 million NIS was included in the state budget to pay for career training and job placement for this community and we have seen a 300% increase in haredim turning to government job programs since the law passed. I, personally, head the Knesset taskforce to help haredim enter the workforce. The projects which we initiated, including the dedicated “All Jobs for Haredim” website, receive an average of 500 resumes from haredim per month as we assist them in their job search and facilitate job placement.
The benefit of haredim going to work is three-fold:
1 – Their families no longer live in poverty.
2 – Instead of the state providing for these families they now contribute to the state’s tax revenue.
3 – Offices and companies throughout Israel become a meeting place between the ultra-Orthodox and secular populations which leads to greater respect between the populations as they get to know one another. The result is greater unity and also a more moderate ultra-Orthodox community.
Yesh Atid policies relating to the haredi community have yielded one last remarkable achievement – and it may be the most important one. Shortly after the January 2013 elections, moderate haredi leaders told me that the most important thing that we could do for the haredi community was to get basic general studies into their schools.
And, we have done just that. Forty two haredi schools opened this year with basic general studies and the plan is in place to reach 100% of schools which receive government funding by 2018. I have visited some of these schools and the students, mainstream haredim from mainstream haredi homes, are thriving.
The haredi parties have certainly taken note of these changes. They have already said that their goal is to get back into the government and “turn the clock back.” The shame is that other parties would have no problem accommodating that request and undoing all the progress in terms of enlistment, employment, and education, as long as it would enable them to form a government. A strong Yesh Atid will prevent that from happening and will allow for us to continue making progress in this realm.
2)Thanks to Yesh Atid, the next government cannot have more than 18 ministers and 4 deputy ministers, the concept of “Minister without Portfolio” has been abolished, and further steps have been taken to combat government corruption.
Throughout the 2013 election campaign, candidates for the Yesh Atid party repeated a significant statistic – the government at that time had reached 39 ministers and deputy ministers with the job conditions of ministers. This meant a huge waste of taxpayer money and increased bureaucracy. We pointed out that other much larger countries throughout the world had under 20 ministers and that Israel’s bloated government not only wasted money but was inherently corrupt since the positions were created simply to lure parties into the coalition or for Prime Ministers to repay supporters within their own parties. The height of corruption was the list of “Ministers without Portfolio” who were given a nice office, a luxurious car, a driver, a large staff, and a seat at the government table. All they lacked was a job to do with actual responsibilities. We promised to reduce the size of the government and to eliminate the position of “Minister without Portfolio.”
The Knesset passed this legislation in March 2014. The next government cannot have more than 18 ministers and 4 deputy ministers and we banned “Ministers without Portfolio.” We fulfilled our promise.
We actually went beyond simply fulfilling our campaign promises and continued reforming government ministries and agencies which have become places for corruption and political payback.
Over the last few decades, some government ministries have regressed into an environment in which politicians pay back those who supported them in the elections. New, unnecessary positions have been added throughout the years at the expense of taxpayers. Ministers have been appointing friends and supporters to serve as directors of government companies. And these government companies have functioned with zero transparency making these positions even more attractive for the ultimate political payback.
In his role as Finance Minister, MK Yair Lapid changed the rules regarding the process for choosing directors for these government companies. The general public was invited to submit applications to serve as directors and a non-political committee was appointed to choose the most deserving candidates for these positions.
The issue of growing government offices and the lack of transparency in government companies was set to be addressed in the 2015 budget which the Finance Minister sent to the Knesset. The budget included a plan to require the Government Companies Authority to issue small portions of stock in a large number of state-owned firms on the stock market. Companies on the stock exchange must produce financial reports every three months. This would have created transparency for the first time regarding these government companies.
Another proposed reform, included in the proposed budget, was a freeze on new recruitment to prevent the expansion of government ministries simply for political payback. This was a classic example of new politics challenging the corruption of old politics. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister halted these last two important reforms when he called for new elections instead of passing the budget.
A strong Yesh Atid will make sure that these important changes will remain in place and you will have a small, efficient, less expensive, and clean government in place.
3) As the grandson of Holocaust survivors there was nothing closer to my heart as a member of Knesset than ensuring that survivors living in Israel can live out their senior years with the dignity they deserve. I am so proud that as a result of Yesh Atid’s decision to allocate one billion NIS to assist Holocaust survivors, the State of Israel is now doing just that.
Throughout the 2013 election campaign, candidates from Yesh Atid led by MK Yair Lapid promised that we would work to make life easier and better for the citizens of Israel. As soon as MK Lapid and MK Meir Cohen entered their offices as Finance Minister and Welfare Minister, respectively, they discovered that many Holocaust survivors who helped to build our country are struggling and cannot afford their medications and monthly bills.
The first issue dealt with survivors who moved to Israel after 1953. They were not viewed or treated in the same manner as survivors who immigrated to Israel prior to 1953 and received less government assistance. Why should 18,500 survivors receive thousands of shekel less per month simply because they remained in Europe for a few years after the war while trying to rebuild themselves and their lives? Finance Minister Lapid and Welfare Minister Cohen allocated 277 million NIS to provide equal grants to survivors who moved here after 1953.
The second issue related to the minimum amount of financial assistance which Holocaust survivors receive. The government set forth criteria to determine how much money it needs to allocate to each survivor based on their physical capacities and psychological needs. The minimum had been 1,825 NIS per month and Yair Lapid and Meir Cohen believed that they must raise this minimum to accommodate for the growing needs of the survivors. They allocated 166 million NIS to raise the minimum payment received by these 70,000 survivors to 2,200 NIS per month.
The third issue focused on medications. We, in Yesh Atid, believe that it should be a core value in a Jewish state that we cover the costs of medication for Holocaust survivors. This belief became cemented when we discovered that many survivors were not taking their prescribed medicines because they simply could not afford them despite the 50% discount they received for medications included in the health basket. We allocated 130 million NIS to enable survivors to receive all medications in the health basket for free.
The fourth issue addressed the difficulty specific Holocaust survivors faced in receiving their stipends and benefits. Until now, those who moved to Israel after 1953 or those who were not in concentration camps or ghettos were entitled to compensation up to 4,000 NIS every two years for dental and vision coverage. However, they were required to save and present their receipts to the relevant offices. We did not believe it was ethical to make these specific survivors deal with such a difficult bureaucratic requirement in order to receive assistance simply because they moved to Israel after a certain date or because we view their survival during the war as “easier” since they were not in a camp or ghetto. Therefore, the Yesh Atid ministers changed the policy. At an annual cost of 288 million NIS, 80,000 survivors now receive an annual grant of 3,600 NIS to help them deal with their dental, optical, or other needs and we arranged for these funds to be deposited directly into their bank accounts.
We addressed additional pressing needs of Holocaust survivors including additional welfare services and, in total, allocated one billion NIS to improve their lives. This shift in priorities, helping the most needed in society is one which we seek to continue. Our 2015 budget which was stopped from passing when elections were called, included a 2 billion NIS increase to welfare to raise 190,000 senior citizens above the poverty line. A strong Yesh Atid will make sure that the aid to Holocaust survivors continues and that we continue to assist the most vulnerable and needy in our society.
4) After years of neglect, MK Rabbi Shai Piron, former minister of education, made education one of the government’s top priorities and made numerous changes to improve the country’s education system.
Israel used to be ranked in the top ten internationally in education. The country has plummeted in international rankings to 37th in reading comprehension and 42nd in math and science due to a system that has been neglected and significant parts of the population have been ignored.
MK Rabbi Shai Piron came into office in March 2013 and began to make the changes necessary to improve the education system. This included the well-known reforms to reduce the number of matriculation exams so that teachers will educate and not simply teach our children to pass tests, summer time programing so that students spend their summer vacation with meaningful educational experiences, the establishment of technology based vocational schools for those students who cannot thrive in a standard classroom setting, requiring significant community service to receive a matriculation diploma, and enabling the existing matriculation exams to count as entry exams into university thereby cancelling the year of study and thousands of shekel involved in taking the pre-college psychometric exams.
But, I am not going to focus on these well-known reforms which are contributing to the necessary overhaul in education. Numerous smaller changes that have been made by Yesh Atid have already improved the education and lives of children throughout Israel and have provided parents with significant economic savings.
Special needs children have not been granted equal opportunity in Israel’s education system and this was something Yesh Atid set out to change. Rabbi Piron provided full funding for 3 and 4 year old children to attend municipal pre-schools. This will enable special needs children to integrate within mainstream classroom settings from the earliest age which will help them integrate better into society. This assistance includes budgets for an aide, expert guidance for the nursery teachers, and hours of additional support for these children. In addition, we added an hour a day to students with cerebral palsy, serious physical handicaps, and other disabilities, and also expanded the scope of medical assistance provided to students in the regular education system who suffer from a variety of health issues.
Our effort to provide special needs students with equal opportunities and integration extended beyond the classroom. Each year, the Ministry of Education funds the participation of tens of thousands of students to travel to Poland to learn about the Holocaust. In a majority of cases, special needs students were forced to give up this empowering experience due to the high costs of paying double to cover an aide to accompany these students who needed such assistance. During his year and eight months as Education Minister, Rabbi Shai Piron allocated funds for aides to join special needs students on school trips to Poland to enable these children to participate without having to pay any extra.
It was not only students with special needs who had lost out on educational activities in the past but also students from the periphery and from weaker economic backgrounds. One billion NIS was added to the education budget to add 150,000 extra hours of Hebrew language, math, and English for students in schools where this additional assistance is critical to providing them with equal opportunities.
Worrisome statistics have emerged regarding the inability for underprivileged families to purchase even the most basic school supplies. In addition, they cannot afford the costs for extracurricular activities and class trips. Again, while Minister of Education, Shai Piron expanded the special scholarship fund to 100 million NIS to make sure that all students have supplies and can participate in school activities. 130,000 students are receiving this added assistance. Yesh Atid views this as a moral issue but also as an economic investment in the future of our country.
Purchasing school textbooks has become a serious financial burden for all parents in Israel so Shai Piron began the process of purchasing user rights for digital textbooks which cost about 40% less than regular books. This was done with the ultimate goal of using digital books at no cost to parents and a significant saving for the country. There are many benefits to learning through digital books including updates on course material, the ability to connect and add different layers of information, the sharing of information between the students in the class, the simplicity of purchasing the books, the reduced physical weight that the student must carry, and the significant conservation of paper which serves to protect the environment.
Youth organizations have, sadly, taken a back seat in recent years but we at Yesh Atid believe that the recipe for an exemplary society is youth involvement in communal activities. The budget for youth organizations in Israel stood at 3 million NIS until Shai Piron increased it to 23 million. This dramatic increase means budgets for ten additional programs enabling tens of thousands more young people involved in youth groups, helping to transform them into volunteering, socially conscious youth. This will also influence democratic dialogue, encourage tolerance and respect for others, and promote a rejection of violence and racism.
Most of these and many other reforms that we have made in education are now on hold due to the election. A strong Yesh Atid will enable MK Rabbi Shai Piron to return as Minister of Education in order to continue with these and many other education plans to provide a brighter future for our children and our country.
5)As a result of Yesh Atid’s laws and policies, small businesses have been put to the forefront of Israel’s economic plans.
Small businesses are the engine of economies worldwide. Serving as the number one employer, their success translates into success for a country’s economy. In Israel, small businesses make up 55% of the job market. For years, Israel’s small businesses have been neglected. Yair Lapid and the Yesh Atid party campaigned throughout the 2013 elections on a platform which made assisting small businesses one of our main priorities. And, that is exactly what we have done.
Upon arriving in his position as Finance Minister, Yair Lapid learned that in 2012, small businesses that provided services to the government were paid late for their services an astounding 67% of the time. This caused terrible problems for the cash flow in these businesses especially since many of their government jobs were extensive in nature. Aside from the financial damage this caused, it is simply wrong. This is the equivalent of the government borrowing interest-free money from the country’s small business sector. Lapid immediately set up a committee under the leadership of Michal Abadi, the accountant general of the Finance Ministry, to put a plan into place to make sure that the tens of thousands of job orders in all the government ministries are paid for in a timely fashion. The new policy mandated that all transactions up to 50,000 NIS (accounting for 85% of the government’s work orders) be paid within 24 days of the bill’s presentation and above 50,000 NIS by 30 days. In addition, a special website was established to enable small businesses to submit their bills to the government on line.
Yair Lapid made another policy change with major financial ramifications for small businesses. The law used to view the income of a husband and wife who worked together in a small family business as one large salary. This catapulted them to a higher tax bracket resulting in significantly higher taxes. Lapid, as Finance Minister, changed the law and starting January 1, 2014 the income of each member of the couple has been viewed individually resulting in far lower tax payments. These lower tax payments allow small businesses to use their capital for further investment and growth.
Another issue which caused cash flow problems for small businesses was the Value Added Tax. Small businesses would offer customers the option of paying for purchases with a payment plan but were required to pay the VAT upfront to the government immediately upon making the sale. Thus, they had to find the money to pay the government before they were paid in full by the client. Yair Lapid changed the law and starting January 1, 2015 small businesses only pay VAT based on cash in hand. They are now required to only pay VAT when they have collected money from their clients.
Small business owners have had a very difficult time receiving credit from banks. This had prevented them from borrowing the funds necessary to expand and further develop their businesses. Therefore, finance ministry, led by Yesh Atid, established a loan fund which provides small business owners with guarantees of as much as 500 million NIS to enable them to receive loans from banks and grow their businesses.
Aside from helping existing small businesses grow, it is essential that we assist people who want to establish new small businesses. As Finance Minister, Yair Lapid doubled the amount of funds available in government loans for those who want to expand their business. One of the ways in which small businesses can reach new levels of growth is through winning government tenders for large job orders. These tenders generally went to larger companies with clear discrimination against small businesses. Yair Lapid worked to ensure that tenders do not include extraneous conditions which make it impossible for small businesses to compete against large companies. In addition, the ministry’s accountant was given authority to check all tenders for discrimination against small businesses. Steps were also taken to provide small businesses with as much exposure as possible to government tenders and tenders were broken down into smaller components to make it easier for small businesses to compete.
We are very proud that in just a year and eight months in office we were able to provide significant assistance to small business owners and to entrepreneurs seeking to establish new businesses. A strong Yesh Atid will enable us to implement our entire plan to improve the situation for small businesses and their owners.
6)As a result of Yesh Atid’s laws and policies, Israel’s health system has been, and will continue to be, reformed leading to more efficient, user friendly and less expensive health services.
The Health Ministry in Israel was always viewed as a ministry in which nothing could really get done and, as a result, elected officials shied away from the position of health minister. MK Yael German of the Yesh Atid party specifically wanted this portfolio and from day one has been hard at work. The following demonstrates some of what she has accomplished to date during the short 19th Knesset:
1) Closing the gap between the quality of health care in the center of the country and the periphery including: the introduction of a heart department and chest surgeries to Poriah hospital in Tiberias , new MRI machines for hospitals throughout the periphery, new radiation equipment for Ziv Hospital in Tzefat for the treatment of cancer patients throughout the North, 250 million NIS in grants for doctors throughout the periphery, 75 million NIS in grants for specialty areas in the periphery.
2) The establishment of a website, “Kol Habriut,” which outlines the rights of citizens to healthcare and also provides a detailed explanation of the various health insurance options available.
3) A national program to eradicate polio from Israel
4) A program to promote the inclusion of Ethiopian immigrants in pre-nursing programs
5) 150 million NIS to improve emergency care and an upgrade in the computer system in emergency rooms
6) New regulations regarding the use of pesticides on fruits and vegetables and the banning of any chemicals that have proven to contain any danger
7)The establishment of a national program to prevent suicides – a government program together with the ministries of welfare, education, immigration, and senior citizens to reduce the number of suicides in Israel and better assist the families of those who have committed suicide
8) Improving services for the handicapped including moving ministry service to a facility with access for the handicapped
9) Adding positions for immigrant doctors and removing obstacles for nurses who want to make Aliyah.
10) Government approval for a new hospital in Be’er Sheva
This list of accomplishments pales in comparison to what MK German was on the verge of accomplishing when the Prime Minister called for new elections. One of the first things she did when she came into office was to establish a professional committee to determine the best path to strengthen the public health system in Israel. They met for over a year with the leading experts in the field. The committee returned with its recommendations and they were to be included in the 2015 budget which the Prime Minister stopped from passing when he disbanded the Knesset. That budget included a 4 billion NIS increase to the health ministry and the following is a brief overview of the improvements which were planned for 2015:
1) Cutting down on waiting times for surgeries and appointments
2) Getting rid of the payments that too many citizens make for unnecessary extra insurance policies
3) A major reform in medical tourism to make sure that Israeli citizens don’t suffer from non-Israelis who live abroad and seek medical treatment in Israel
4) The opening of 6 new overnight medical centers in the periphery and further improvements in all emergency rooms
5) Reforms on behalf of those with celiac disease to reduce the prices of gluten- free food
6) Significant investment in improving early childhood treatment in the South
7) Including more medications in the health basket
8) Treatment of problems of contamination and infections in hospitals
9) Implementation of the recommendations of a special committee for identifying rare diseases in Israel and the appropriate treatments
10) The establishment of a committee to improve healthcare services for women and the employment of women in the healthcare field
All of these necessary reforms are ready to be activated. A strong Yesh Atild will enable MK Yael German to return to the head of the Health Ministry to ensure that all the improvements we already made remain in place and to continue forward with our plans, projects and programs in the 2015 budget and beyond to improve healthcare in Israel.
7)As a result of Yesh Atid’s laws and policies, for the first time in many years, there is an actual plan in place to reduce the cost of housing in Israel.
The comptroller released a scathing report detailing the failures of the governments from 2008 to 2013 in dealing with the problem of the cost of housing in Israel. During that time, housing costs rose by 55% with no structured plan to address the problem. On page 251 of the report the comptroller states that this past government was the first to present a series of reforms which when implemented in a methodical manner, will substantially reduce the cost of housing. This is the result of Yair Lapid entering office as Finance Minister and forming a housing cabinet which, for the first time ever, collaborating with all the ministers involved in the realm of housing who were then led through a series of reforms to bring down the cost of housing.
The biggest problem, as indicated by the comptroller, had been the lack of construction. There was a need for the construction of 40,000 units per year but the country was only building 30,000 per year – resulting in a lack of 10,000 units per year which has escalated to 60,000 over the last few years. This lack of apartments in the face of great demand was the number one reason for the prices going up. The housing cabinet worked together to start the construction of over 100,000 new apartments in carefully planned neighborhoods. These units are already being built including 15,000 in Rishon Letzion, 7,500 in Kiryat Gat, 12,000 in Modiin, and 7,500 in Kiyat Bialik. In addition, we began the process of clearing out IDF bases that will move to the South, thereby clearing 8,900 “dunam” in the center of the country for the construction of 60,000 new units. In 2014 we exceeded a national record with more than 50,000 units being marketed.
The second part of the Yesh Atid housing plan is minimize the extraneous bureaucracy which led to significant delays in construction and also led to the rise in costs. The fact that Yair Lapid brought all the relevant ministries together enabled constructive collaboration and we were able to streamline the process. Neighborhoods are planned with all the necessary infrastructure in place including transportation, schools, etc. to make sure that there are no avoidable delays. The “Nativ Ladira” program allowed for the quick planning and construction of these 100,000 plus units and, even more importantly, freed 50,000 units to move forward which had already been marketed but were held up.
The third part of the plan is the construction of 150,000 low-cost long-term rentals in the areas of greatest demand throughout Israel. Aside from the fact that this would simply enable young couples to afford their initial rentals, the lower rental costs would impact the sales market as well. The “Dira L’haskir” government company was approved and the planning for these units has begun.
The fourth element of the plan is “targeted pricing.” Land will be released to contractors on condition that they sell 80% of the units at 20% below the current market price. Over the next five years, 66,000 would be marketed under this plan.
The fifth element of the plan to lower the cost of housing was the construction of units for university students. Working together with all the relevant organizations including student groups, Yair Lapid initiated the construction of 5,000 housing units for college students – 1,000 in the periphery and 4,000 in central Israel. The 160 million NIS designated for this project will be used in two parts. 100 million NIS was already invested in 3,000 units in the areas where there is the greatest demand for housing. The students will benefit from the low cost temporary apartments built for them, and when they move out of their current apartment units they will become available for middle class Israelis who are searching for places to live. In the second stage, 64 million NIS will go towards 2,000 units for community college students in the cities – in conjunction with the local municipalities.
The sixth element of the Yesh Atid housing plan was a one-time change which we put into effect immediately after coming into office. The previous housing minister, from the Shas party, established a criteria for government assistance in purchasing a home, called “experience in marriage.” This was a criteria set to benefit the ultra-Orthodox population which tends to get married at younger ages and, thus, qualified to receive this assistance at the expense of the broader population. As head of the housing cabinet, Yair Lapid switched this criteria for a new criteria – “qualified to enter the workforce.” The assistance is now provided to those who studied in universities, including the ultra-Orthodox, since the government assistance should be directed to those who will be paying taxes and contributing back to the government and the economy.
Finally, aside from all the steps described above, Yesh Atid believes in giving young couples who served in the IDF or did national service the opportunity to purchase their first home at a reduction of 240,000 NIS by not charging VAT on these homes. Aside from simply giving tens of thousands of young people the chance to purchase their own home, a long list of economic experts including Yaron Gindi and Tzvika Oren believe that this benefit will lead to a reduction in the second hand sales market as well.
Yesh Atid came into office and began implementing all of the elements in this plan. And, a remarkable thing happened. In October 2014, after housing prices rose by 80% over the last seven years, there was actually a reduction in overall house prices. It was just 1%. But we began heading in the right direction since, as the comptroller’s report indicated, there simply needs to be an all-encompassing strategy implemented and house prices will go down.
A strong Yesh Atid will enable will enable us to continue our plan which was cut short when the Prime Minister called for elections, and bring down the cost of housing in Israel.