'We all want same thing, even if we put it differently'

TA protesters attempt to compose list of demands before bringing cause to negotiation table; Histadrut to hold rally of solidarity.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
August 2, 2011 14:51
3 minute read.
Tent City press conference

Tent City press conference 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

Representatives of various groups actively participating in the Tel Aviv's social justice demonstrations met on Tuesday at Tel Aviv University to formulate a comprehensive list of their demands to be brought before the government, Army Radio reported.

"We all want the same things, even if we put it differently," said one of the protest leaders, according to the report.

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Tel Aviv social justice demonstrators have been criticized for struggling to compose a comprehensive list of demands as the parallel protest group in Jerusalem completed its list on Monday.

One demand has already been declared: to cancel the vote planned for Wednesday on the National Housing Committees Bill. The measure is meant to streamline housing construction by having a National Housing Subcommittee discuss housing plans.

Critics of the plan say it would be used to give a green light to privatize state land for wealthy developers to build luxury projects, and wouldn’t address the housing shortage.

Protesters said last week that if the vote on the law is not canceled, they would march to the Knesset and hold a mass protest, with the goal of disrupting the vote.

On Monday, protest leaders announced that they had nixed their demand for cameras to be present during any negotiations to be held with the prime minister, following a dispute with the National Student Union over the issue.

“The headquarters of the tent city protests admits that it made a mistake by demanding that cameras be present during the dialogue with the prime minister. The student union managed to convince us that the central precondition for holding talks will be the cancellation of the National Housing Committees law.”

The statement ended: “We are a broad movement and we will not be defeated by any single person or any amount of spin.”

The joint announcement was issued by the protest movement and the student union on Wednesday afternoon after the media widely reported tension between the union and tent city protest leaders.

Earlier in the day, the protest headquarters on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard issued a statement saying “our demand for cameras to be present during dialogue with the prime minister isn’t for the sake of media coverage of the event, rather because of the public’s need for there to be transparency and out of understandable fear of secret nighttime deals made between different officials.”

The Student Union said that “the demand to affix cameras is not rational and will be disrespectful to anyone sent by the government [without any connection to the Right or the Left] and will end any attempt at future dialogue that could possibly reach solutions [on housing, education, welfare, etc.].”

Additionally, housing protests continued to spread throughout the country on Tuesday, as tents were set up in Zichron Yaakov across from the regional council offices, and in the Druse villages of Hurfeish, Yirka, and Julis, Army Radio reported.
Also on Tuesday, the Histadrut labor federation said it would gather thousands of workers on the lawn of its Tel Aviv offices on Thursday evening in a show of support for the ongoing protests.

Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini said, “Workers from around the country are an inseparable part of the middle and lower classes. They represent all the layers of society – Jewish, Arab, right, left, women, men and more.”

Eini added that the labor federation was coordinating its efforts with protest organizers, and that it had no ambitions to play the lead role.

Nadav Shemer contributed to this report.


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