Histadrut Joins Housing Struggle as Activists Step Up Protests in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv

Some 200 protesters march toward Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, some 300 Tel Aviv protesters march to second tent site in southern part of the city; Histadrut chairman meets with organizers of tent protest.

Histadrut Labor Federation Chairman Ofer Eini met with leaders of Israel's housing protests in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, to tell them that the Histadrut will be joining their struggle starting Sunday and intends on taking part in the protesters' discussions with the government.

The meeting came several hours after Eini issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that the Histadrut would take all possible measures to help the housing struggle unless Netanyahu invites Eini and other officials to a meeting to provide solutions for the troubles of Israel's lower and middle classes by Saturday night.

Housing protest - AFP - July 30, 2011

Earlier on Wednesday, the Union of Local Authorities in Israel announced that it will join the housing shortage protest and declared a general strike for August 1.

Meanwhile, some 200 housing protesters in Jerusalem marched Wednesday from their tent site in the center of the city toward Netanyahu's residence, blocking major roads on their way.

Once the protesters reached Netanyahu's residence, they hung a "For Sale" sign on it, protesting that the Netanyahu family currently holds three homes.

Moreover, some 300 protesters from the Tel Aviv protest on Rothschild Boulevard marched Wednesday toward the second Tel Aviv tent site in the southern part of the city near Levinsky Street.

Earlier Wednesday, Eini opened the press conference by saying that housing prices were just part of the overall social problem facing Israel today, and just one cause of the erosion of the middle class and weaker sectors of society.

Eini said he approached all the relevant authorities in attempt to find a solution.

"Over the last month, I have met with the Finance Minister and the Industry, Trade and Labor Minister and I said, 'Let's get together.' We also made a written request to find a solution, and unfortunately we did not get a response. The protest got underway," he said.

"In the media the recent protest has been referred to as the 'housing protest'," Eini continued. "The housing prices are high, as are rental prices, but the problem is not only the cost of housing. The problem lies with the middle class and weaker sectors of society. If once I was able to go to the supermarket and make a NIS 700 purchase, today I pay double. And that is not linked to the CPI. If the CPI rises 3%, the supermarket prices rise 30%. The one benefiting from these rising prices is the government."