PM responds to tent protesters: Come protest in Jerusalem

Netanyahu calls on tent demonstrators to support his land reform proposal; Attias says plans to build apartments in periphery.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
July 17, 2011 14:40
4 minute read.

Tel Aviv housing prices tent protest 58. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday addressed protesters from Tel Aviv and around the country who are staging protests against rising housing costs. "Come protest in Jerusalem," the prime minister said at the weekly cabinet meeting. "Help me pass land reform [laws]."



The government is working to address the issue, Netanyahu said, "there is a large demand and there aren't enough apartments."

The Knesset on Sunday canceled a committee meeting on the housing crisis scheduled for Monday. Instead, an emergency discussion officially named "Who's afraid of bursting the real estate bubble" will take place Monday.

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The previously-scheduled Knesset Finance Committee session was canceled after Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz canceled their appearances.

Protesters currently living in tents on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard should bring their struggle to the Knesset and be patient as land reforms are passed and implemented, Netanyahu said. "It will take between two and three years to channel tens of thousands of apartments into the market. But this is what will resolve the issue; this is what will provide a genuine solution."

Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias (Shas) said on Sunday in an interview with Israel Radio that the high housing prices in Tel Aviv are a result of a shortage of apartments and a lack of available land in the city on which to build more.

He said that there is available land in Modi'in, Rosh Ha'ayin, Yavne, and Herzliya, where it is possible to build up to 25,000 units in the next two years.

Irate over soaring real estate prices in Tel Aviv and elsewhere across the country, hundreds of people set up a tent city over the weekend at the northern end of Rothschild Boulevard, and vowed not to break camp until the government presents a solution to the rising cost of putting a roof over one’s head.

The tent city protest comes a few weeks after a Facebook campaign to boycott cottage cheese attracted more than 100,000 followers and drew the attention of politicians and captains of industry alike. Like the “Cottage Cheese Intifada,” the new protest appears to be an entirely grassroots affair that took wing on Facebook, addressing an issue that directly affects the pocketbooks of Israelis.

By Friday afternoon, around three dozen tents were set up in the boulevard’s pedestrian midway, as was a “living room” complete with mattresses and couches.

On Saturday, the National Students Union announced that it is joining the protest, and said that beginning on Sunday, students will set up protest tents in Beersheba and at Rupin College north of Netanya. In addition, they announced that tents will be set up at the Beit Berl College in the Sharon region and at Tel Hai College in Kiryat Shmona.

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