Protests outside Knesset as PM formulates housing plan

Five arrested, police officer hurt as demonstrators block street near Knesset building in J'lem; Netanyahu meets with Steinitz, Atias, agrees to give breaks to couples buying first apartment, meetings to continue.

July 25, 2011 10:19
2 minute read.
Protests against high price of rent near Knesset

Jerusalem Rent Protest 311. (photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)


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Several dozen people protested housing costs outside of the Knesset building in Jerusalem on Monday, momentarily blocking a street.

Five protesters were arrested and one police officer was injured in the incident. The officer was evacuated to the hospital for treatment.

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Police on the scene successfully cleared the protesters from the street as well as cinder blocks they had used to block the road.

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The protest came on the tail of mass protests in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem, the latter of which saw at least 1,000 demonstrators marching on the Knesset Sunday night, perturbed over the soaring cost of housing.

After meeting late into Sunday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet again with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias Monday in order to formulate a plan to ease housing restrictions, Army Radio reported.

As part of a larger state-housing plan, the three agreed Sunday to provide benefits to couples who purchase their first apartment and to increase funding for student dormitories.

It was also agreed upon to continue with the establishment of national housing committees, adding that these committees will include an "affordable housing" component, Army Radio said.

Protesters had said that on Monday morning they would build a fake brick wall and use their tents to block the entrance to the Knesset, representing the “impenetrable wall” that the government has put around affordable housing. The gesture is intended to symbolically prevent Knesset members from attending a vote on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s National Housing Committee Law.

“This is the first time the middle class is waking up and demanding to be able to live here,” said Rachel Azaria, a city councilwoman from the Yerushalmim party. “It’s not only about housing, it’s much larger,” Azaria continued, as she marched with her husband and three daughters on Sunday night.

One demonstrator was detained after trying to jump the fence in front of the Knesset, but the demonstration was much tamer than Saturday’s Tel Aviv march, when 43 people were arrested for tussling with police as the event broke up.

Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.

Lahav Harkov and Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.

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