Tent-city protesters present demands to Trajtenberg C’tee

Committee on social and economic changes holds last open session before beginning deliberations, meets with representatives of tent cities.

Trajtenberg Committee 'Rothschild Team' 311  (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Trajtenberg Committee 'Rothschild Team' 311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Representatives of tent cities across the country took part in a discussion held by the Trajtenberg Committee on Wednesday, for the first time since the panel was appointed to tackle the social issues that have been driving nationwide protests since mid-July.
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, speaking at the meeting in the capital, issued a defense of the activists, saying “there has been criticism of the leaders of the protest... They are young people who this whole thing has fallen on completely by surprise. They did not imagine that it would end up the way it has. They are not professional leaders and haven’t been worn down by the years. Are they supposed to know how to manage all of this perfectly? We also make mistakes; I have a whole list of mistakes I have made in recent weeks. We need to be easy on one another.”
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The protesters presented Trajtenberg and his committee with a series of complaints relating to the myriad issues driving their movement, including the high cost of housing, consumer goods and taxes.
Trajtenberg told them, “We will not issue solutions that have already been lying around collecting dust for years.
There will be concrete measures taken but a recommendation [will also be made to the government] about economic approaches. In every single field we will emphasize steps that can be taken immediately over the next five years.”
He added, “There will be a very clear statement from the committee about the responsibility of the government and the state. In recent years the state has pulled back from its responsibilities to its citizens, or from effectively carrying out these responsibilities.
We will devise a transparent and concrete government policy that will bring practical changes in every field, such as housing and the cost of living.”
Trajtenberg said most of the changes would be implemented over the course of several years. He also said that the recommendations would not call for breaking the national budget framework, but for changing the national priorities.
Also on Wednesday, the Central Bureau of Statistics issued a report on “Construction Begun and Construction Completed in the First Half of 2011.”
The report includes some good news for a movement that is pushing for solutions to the housing shortage.
For instance, in the first six months of 2011 construction was started on 22,000 housing units, an increase of 15 percent over the same period in 2010. That figure included a 55% increase in housing starts in the southern district of the country.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday evening that “the impressive rise in the launching of construction projects reveals the concerted and successful efforts of the government I lead since the beginning of my leadership.
The steps that have already been taken in the real-estate market, including the National Housing Committees Law and the reform of the Israel Lands Authority that have recently been approved contribute and continue to contribute greatly to the increase in the supply of housing in Israel and the decrease in housing prices across the country.”
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