Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned Thursday, November 15 that Israel is going through a state of "economic emergency" and called for budgetary discipline.
"We are in a state of economic emergency," he told an annual meeting of Israel's association of industrialists in Tel Aviv. "This is not the right time for strikes, nor for work stoppages, however justified, and it is also not the time for populist laws that threaten the state budget," said Sharon.
"The economic situation is very rough and the difficulties must not be made even worse," he said. "It's not that we refuse to give in to the demands of employees, but there is simply nowhere to get it (extra funds) from, and I have also told MPs that we will not go over budgets," he said.
The prime minister ruled out higher taxes, cutting development projects or slashing jobs. For the past two weeks, several Israeli civil service branches have been on strike, including the customs administration, and some departments of the tax and the social security offices.
Squeezed by both the Palestinian uprising -- which has hit tourism -- and a world economic slump, Israel reported a drop this week of nearly three percent in third-quarter gross domestic product. — (AFP, Jerusalem)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )