housing protest representatives_311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Representatives from the 40 tent cities across the country and the heads of the
National Student Union on Tuesday reached an agreement over eight initial
demands they will present to the Netanyahu government to settle the housing and
other social crises.
RELATED:Poll: 'Social' party could win 20 seats in elections today'We all want same thing, even if we put it differently'
By late Tuesday night, however, they were still
meeting to discuss a final set of demands.
Titled “Guidelines for a new
social and economic agenda,” the eight initial demands include a reduction in
indirect taxes (in particular VAT); the investment of surplus tax revenues in
social programs by way of the state budget; the disbanding of a commission aimed
at speeding up construction, but which protesters believe would only enrich
building companies; an increase in the budget for the Ministry of Construction
and Housing’s mortgage and rental assistance programs; free education from the
age of three months; an increase in medical supplies and infrastructure at health facilities
across Israel; a halt to the privatization of welfare and mental health
facilities; and a gradual cancellation of private-contractor- run construction
projects in the public sector.
The announcement did not include figures
on how much the plan would cost or a timetable for its
Upon the release of the initial proposals, National
Student Union head Itzik Shmuli said “there has been meaningful progress on the
formulation of a document of principles that will be presented to the
government, and the eight clauses therein... show we are working for social
betterment, and not only in one field but in many.”
Shmuli said the goal
was to “change the economy from one of numbers to one of people,” saying the job
was not yet done.
“Our desire is to bring the document to the tent cities
across Israel and hear what people think. But there is no doubt that the
eight-clause document shows the level of seriousness with which we are taking
these issues, and we plan to present the government with a wide-ranging document
that will bring about social change,” he said.
A number of protest
actions took place around the time of the announcement, including a march by
hundreds in Jerusalem, and smaller protest marches in Rehovot and Hod Hasharon.
The National Student Union said Tuesday night students would block traffic
intersections across Israel throughout Wednesday.
The Histadrut labor
federation said it would gather thousands of workers on the lawn of its Tel Aviv
headquarters on Thursday evening in a show of support for the ongoing
“Workers from around the country are an inseparable part of the
middle and lower classes,” said Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini. “They represent
all layers of society – Jewish, Arab, Right, Left, women, men and
Eini said the labor federation was coordinating its efforts with
protest organizers, and it had no ambitions to take the lead.