Israel Social Protest Leaders Vow to Keep on Until 'Profound' Changes Made

Comments made during press conference near Knesset comes as Tel Aviv officials offer their help in dismantling the city's extensive tent city.

Israel's social protest leaders vowed Tuesday to continue their activity until the government enacts real social change.

Joined by a panel of economic experts, protest leaders told a press conference held across Jerusalem's Rose Garden that they would settle for no less than profound changes in the Israeli economic system that included a fresh state budget.

Protest leaders press conference - Emil Salman - 6.9.2011
Emil Salman

Daphni Leef, who initiated the tent city movement and has become a central figure in the social protest, said activists would proceed with their activity even after the success of Saturday's massive 'March of the Million' rally: "85% of the public demand that the government deal profoundly with Israel's social issues," said Leef.

"We will not agree to any proposal that adds up to moving public funds from one pocket to another," Leef said, adding that any real solution requires a new budget, an Israeli social budget."

Yonatan Levy, another protest leader, charged the Knesset with the full responsibility with the social crisis. Protest leaders will go "through all publicly elected officials in all of the parties and make sure we get a clear answer this time – who's with us and who's against us, who's with the public demand for social justice and who's against it," said Levy.

Prof. Avia Spivak, chairman of the economic experts panel that has formed in support of the protesters' demands, said in the press conferences that the demands did not represent the "protest of spoiled children," adding that the panel says, "with all of our professional authority, with the knowledge we have acquired throughout the years that the protest leaders are right – we can, and should renegotiate the budget."

"We can increase spending and risk nothing. We can raise taxes and pay for the pay increases, preventing the deficit from increasing by one shekel," Spivak said, adding that first "there would be the hope for change."

The protest leaders' press conference came as several municipalities were moving to either dismantle local tent cities or urge their inhabitants to dismantle them on their own accord.

Tel Aviv city officials earlier distributed pamphlets announcing the municipality's offer to aid those wishing to dismantle their tenets and move their equipment.

The pamphlets do not clarify, however, if the city would act against those who will refuse to dismantle their tents voluntarily.