Knesset Takes on Rising Supermarket Prices

Corona is hardly an issue anymore, but we’ve got new problems to focus on, like rising supermarket prices and Israelis held prisoner in Istanbul

By Dov Eilon | | Topics: ECONOMY, Turkey
Prices are rising, while supermarket owners and Knesset lawmakers blame one another.
Prices are rising, while supermarket owners and Knesset lawmakers blame one another. Photo: Yossi Aloni/Flash90

From Israel we are following the reports from Europe about the beginning of the fourth Corona wave with concern. While the number of new infections in your countries is going up drastically again, here in Israel we are returning to normal everyday life. There are hardly any restrictions here any longer. Except for the mask that we wear while inside closed public spaces, everything is actually completely normal. At least that's how I feel. Either way, we're going to have to learn to live with Corona.

But with Corona on the wane, we have found new problems on which to focus. One of the biggest problems is rising prices in the supermarkets. The owners of Israel’s large supermarket chains and its import companies have been accused of fixing prices. Everyone finally took notice of this when the supermarkets recently announced drastic price increases.

At the same time, one supermarket chain was caught running two different websites: one for the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and a “normal” website for everyone else. The products were mostly the same, but prices on the former were much lower than those offered to the general public. Following a public outcry, the chain decided to solve the problem by simply closing the cheaper website. This episode, along with the alleged price fixing in general, got the attention of the Knesset, which invited the supermarket owners to an urgent and heated meeting of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee. The supermarkets blame the government for the high prices, the members of the Knesset committee accuse the supermarkets and food companies of price-fixing. Things got so raucous at one point that the owner of a discount supermarket chain had to be expelled from the committee hall:

Rami Levi is the owner of a supermarket chain that bears his name. He allegedly insulted the members of the committee after blaming the government for the high prices. He is not entirely wrong about this, because the taxes and import fees that the state demands are indeed high. However, until something changes, we will first have to dig deep into our pockets.

Shopping in the supermarket is expensive fun.

The second item that has made headlines over the past few days is the story of a couple from central Israel who flew to Istanbul on vacation and were caught photographing the palace of Turkish President Erdoğan. The photos were taken from a distance, and then sent to their family via WhatsApp. The couple has been arrested and are now charged with espionage.

Turkey is a popular travel destination for Israelis, despite the existing tensions. Will it stay that way now? The cheap prices are tempting, but that doesn't appeal to me, I prefer to stay at home. After all, what does Turkey have that we don’t (apart from lower prices)?

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