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Hurwitz Threatens to Withdraw Government Support from El Al

Finance Minister Yigal Hurwitz threatened yesterday to withdraw government support from El Al unless all parties involved with Israel’s national airline find a way to rehabilitate the money-losing carrier.

Addressing the Likud Knesset faction, Hurwitz said that the company loses about $70 million a year and noted that its projected loss for next year is $110 million. “There is no justification for a society that has to double the price of milk for its children to finance a company that loses so much money, “Hurwitz said. He warned EI AI workers that “they had better understand that things cannot continue as they are.”

EI AI has been plagued by labor strife during the past few years and the Likud MKs appeared to agree with the Finance Minister that the government-subsidized airline should be shut down if its huge losses are not stemmed.

Eliezer Shostak remarked that EI AI’s poor labor relations have been poisoning the entire economy for the last two years. Menahem Savidor told Hurwitz “You should have closed EI AI after the last strike last weekend.” Ehud Olmert concurred. “EI AI is your big test. You must go to the bitter end on this,” he said.

Hurwitz defended his economic austerity program announced last week. He said it would produce “a significant drop” in the rate of inflation “within five to 10 months.” Hurwitz spoke in the Knesset a few hours after Histadrut Secretary General Yeruham Meshel promised more than 5000 angry demonstrators outside labor federation headquarters that Histadrut would fight against the new hardships imposed by Hurwitz’s program.

The demonstrators were protesting the last minute cancellation of a general strike that Histadrut had called for yesterday. Meshel assured them that the strike was not cancelled, only postponed and would take place soon.

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