Israeli PM Offers Talks on Economy; Finance Official Resigns

Posted July 31st, 2011 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is offering steps to deal with the economic situation in Israel, one day after the largest turnout for protests demanding the government do something about the rising cost of living.

Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday said he was setting up a committee to open talks with protesters. He told his Cabinet there was “genuine distress” among the public.

About 100,000 people thronged the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other major cities Saturday to demand relief from the high cost of food, fuel and housing. The high prices have created a widening gap between rich and poor.

Protesters are demanding that the government lower taxes, subsidize housing and bring prices down.

Mr. Netanyahu's announcement came as a top financial minister resigned Sunday. Finance Ministry Director General Haim Shani said in a resignation letter that his decision followed long-running disagreements.

Also Sunday, hundreds of Israel's doctors demonstrated in Jerusalem as part of ongoing protests for better working conditions and higher wages. Israel has a socialized medical system, and doctors say they are overworked and underpaid.