The mass protests over Israel’s high cost of living increasingly seem to be aimed directly at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, featuring raucous chants of “Bibi, go home!” And while many of the demonstrators are clearly longstanding Netanyahu opponents, many others are traditional supporters of Netanyahu’s Likud party or its allies; that’s precisely why Netanyahu is so worried. Yet the problems demonstrators are protesting have existed for years; Netanyahu didn’t cause them, and in most cases hasn’t even exacerbated them. So is it fair for the protesters to blame him?RELATED:Is Israel really more expensive than the rest of the world? I think it is. But there’s another person who also deserves a sizable share of the blame: opposition leader Tzipi Livni. First, Netanyahu: As I wrote http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Features/Article.aspx?id=211293 in March, Netanyahu campaigned on a promise to address Israel’s numerous domestic ills, and that’s what his voters expected him to do. While some Israelis do still view the “peace process” as the country’s top priority, Netanyahu’s voters aren’t among them: They belong to that majority of Israelis who, as repeated polls have shown, give top billing to domestic concerns. Last October’s Peace Index Poll, for instance, found http://www.idi.org.il/ResearchAndPrograms/peace_index/Documents/October_2010/The%20Peace%20Index%20Data%20-%20October%202010.pdf that only one-fifth of Jewish Israelis listed the peace process as their top concern; the other four-fifths chose various domestic issues.Moreover, as someone who prides himself on being Israel’s “Mr. Economy,” Netanyahu cannot credibly claim to be either ignorant of the causes of Israel’s high cost of living or incapable of addressing them. Indeed, the remedies are largely those he has advocated for years: lower taxes (currently, for instance, taxes more than double the price of a car) and increased competition (for instance, major food manufacturers shouldn’t also be the chief food importers, leaving them with no incentive to sell imports more cheaply than their own products).Yet since taking office, he has done virtually nothing to address these issues; indeed, his government even raised some taxes. Instead, he has devoted the bulk of his time and attention to diplomatic issues. As a result, while last month’s Peace Index poll http://www.peaceindex.org/files/Peace%20Index-June11.pdf found that 52% of Israeli Jews were dissatisfied with the government’s foreign policy, its rating on socioeconomic issues was worse: 62% deemed its handling of socioeconomic policy “poor,” while 80% voiced “concern” over socioeconomic issues. Moreover, the foreign-policy dissatisfaction came primarily from opposition voters. Coalition supporters, including 70% of Likud voters, generally approved the government’s handling of foreign policy. In contrast, though the poll provided no party breakdown for the socioeconomic results, the larger overall number presumably indicates a larger share of dissatisfied Netanyahu voters. Thus while Netanyahu didn’t create Israel’s economic problems, he betrayed his own voters by failing to do more to solve them. And he thereby fully earned the blame he is now reaping.Nevertheless, Netanyahu faces one objective difficulty in enacting reforms: His own economic policies are diametrically opposed to those of several major coalition partners, including Shas, United Torah Judaism and Independence. All these parties favor more government control over the economy and more government largess. As a result, vital reforms like forcing the Israel Lands Administration to release more land for construction – thereby easing the land shortage that is a major cause of soaring housing prices – have been stuck in the Knesset for over two years.And that’s where Livni comes in.The writer is a journalist and commentator.