While France is trying to ban disposable tableware in fast food restaurants, in Israel the new government will remove surcharges on sugary drinks and single-use plastic cutlery.
Israeli Finance Minister Betsalel Smotrich, who officially took office on Sunday, took the decision against global environmental concerns.
During the first meeting of the ministry, Smotrich indicated that he was preparing as soon as possible the decrees to abolish taxes put in place by the previous government.
“The ultra-religious parties have asked for the abolition of two taxes: the first, on plastic tableware widely used by religious families, the second, on sugary drinks, a tax which had been taken by a very secular minister, sworn enemy of religious Jews, last year and who had raised the price of sodas”, reports the website francetvinfo.fr
The waiver of taxes should take effect in the coming days.
As soon as the decision was announced, outgoing Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg reacted angrily: “The new government is letting petty politics destroy the environment and health. Instead of moving forward, this decision takes us back light years. Canceling taxes will only contribute to pollution and disease.”
For its part, the Israel Association of Public Health Physicians called the removal of the tax “unfortunate and ill-informed.”
Professor of Medicine Elliot Berry, a nutrition specialist at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and former director of the Hebrew University School of Public Health, is shocked: “I am very angry and very sad. It’s a choice of regression, a political decision that has nothing to do with medicine or public health,” he said.
According to the Israel Tax Authority, the removal of these taxes will result in an annual loss of NIS 1.2 billion in tax revenue for the Treasury.
This Sunday, the outgoing ministers held handover ceremonies with their successors in the newly invested government.