Tent council - Nir Keidar - August 2, 2011
Representatives from tent cities across Israel meet in Tel Aviv University, August 2, 2011 Photo by Nir Keidar
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The 40 tent encampments scattered across Israel protesting for better social benefits have decided to set up a joint protest headquarters which will include a representative from each "tent city" set up throughout the country.

The representatives met in Tel Aviv University on Tuesday to discuss issues related to the growing social protest and to formulate official documents stipulating their demands on housing, welfare, education, health and economic policy. The first decision is a unified opposition to the national housing committees to be voted on at the Knesset.

"This is a rare meeting. We are finally meeting all of the tent cities representatives and talking about formulating documents, especially steps that have to do with the vote on the national housing committees tomorrow," said Stav Shafir, one of the leaders of the Tel Aviv protest movement.

"We don't want to control the spontaneous popular protest," she told Haaretz. "The fact that we, people from Rothschild Boulevard, appear constantly in front of the cameras does not mean that others aren't putting in efforts to advance the protest."

The Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini announced Tuesday that the federation will hold a rally on Thursday with thousands of workers taking part, and where speakers will discuss problems in various sectors such as housing, taxes and the cost of living.

Eini also said a Druze tent city has been erected at the entrance to the villages of Yarka and Julis. The Druze representatives are protesting the severe housing shortage in Druze villages, and are throwing their support behind the rest of the general demands brought up in other tent cities across Israel.

Meanwhile, Naftali Bennett, director of the settlers' Yesha council, visited the tent city in Tel Aviv and talked to students. The head of National Union of Israeli Students, Itzik Shmuli, said that the student welcome "any organization that joins the students, especially a body like the Yesha council, which carries significant political weight."