TEL AVIV (Aug. 16)
Israel’s 7000 grocery store owners have started a seven-day strike to protest the new value added tax (VAT) which went into effect July 1. The grocers are not actually protesting the tax but all of the bookkeeping that goes along with VAT. The grocers say that they will accept the offer Defense Minister Shimon Peres made to the West Bank merchants who have been on strike against VAT since it went into effect in Judaea and Samaria at the beginning of August.
Peres’ offer, which the West Bank merchants turned down, would drop the requirement for track-keeping by stores whose turnover is less than IL 500,000 a year. Most Israeli grocers are small “mom and pop” stores who do not make IL 500,000 a year. The government, meanwhile, has asked the supermarkets to increase the number of their checkout counters during the strike. The government itself will operate special bread and dairy distribution centers.