Israel's Labor Federation Demands Government Lower Cost of Living

Ofer Eini says he 'does not intend on bringing down government' by joining housing struggle; protests strengthening in cities across Israel; organizers plan to hold marches Saturday in five different Israeli cities.

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Histadrut Labor Federation Chairman Ofer Eini told Army Radio on Thursday that he does not intend on "bringing down the government" by joining the housing protests, but stressed that it must take action to lower housing prices and cost of living.

On Wednesday, the Histadrut and the Union of Local Authorities joined the campaign against the high price of housing and the general cost of living that has taken Israel by storm in recent weeks. Tent city protest sites have sprouted in numerous cities and towns across Israel, and the struggle is intensifying every day.

Activists protest rising housing prices by blocking major Tel Aviv intersection near Azrieli center, July 25, 2011.Credit: Tali Mayer

"This is a real protest to change Israel's social order – to restore social justice," Eini said, noting that the protest is not only about housing prices but about general cost of living.

One sees a situation where young people and students cannot buy or rent an apartment because prices are sky-high. The country must take responsibility and repair this situation. But it is not only housing – it is cost of living."

Eini said that he approached Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find a general solution to the high price of living in Israel, and emphasized to him that the government must find an all-encompassing solution, not a targeted one.

As of last night, more than 16,000 people had joined a Facebook page calling on people not to come to work on Monday. Tzvika Basor, the man behind the Facebook campaign, called on those who boycott their jobs to come to a demonstration that day in front of the Knesset.

Meanwhile on Thursday, dozens of people gathered in front of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and chanted in protest of rising prices.

In addition to the demonstrations and road-blocking that have been going on daily, protest organizers are planning to hold five marches on Saturday night, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be'er Sheva, Haifa and Nazareth. Each will end in a mass assembly. Organizers expect tens of thousands of people from all over the country to participate.

Meanwhile, the "tent city" along Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard is expanding every night. Wednesday, nearly a kilometer of the street, from Habima Square to Bezalel Yaffe Street, was packed tightly with tents. Workshops and performances are held there daily.

Some 25 tent cities have been set up all over the country, with several Arab towns in the north expected to join the campaign soon.

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