Mass Economic Protests Continue in Israel

Posted August 13th, 2011 at 3:45 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to demand further reforms of the Israeli economic system.

Protesters marched in Tel Aviv, and Haifa in the north and Beersheba in the south.

The demonstrations began last month when social activists set up a tent camp on an upscale Tel Aviv street to highlight the high cost of real estate.

But since then, they have evolved into a sweeping expression of rage against a wide array of economic issues, including the cost of food, gasoline and education.

Last Saturday, over 300,000 people rallied in the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and several other cities, in what was considered to be among the largest coordinated protest in Israeli history.

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week set up a commission to propose economic reforms and hold negotiations with demonstrators. But many protesters have rejected calls for opening dialogue with the government, saying additional reforms should first be made.

Mr. Netanyahu's conservative government has responded to the protests by passing a law to free up land for construction and offering tax breaks. Protest leaders have dismissed those steps as insufficient.

Some recent polls have shown a sharp drop in Mr. Netanyahu's approval ratings and strong support for the protesters.