Rami Levi Supports, Feeds Tent Protesters

After being the first to take up the consumer struggle and lower cottage cheese prices, Rami Levi is now siding with the students protesting high housing prices.

Levi, the owner of the eponymous supermarket chain, brought a truckful of food to the tent protest camp on Rothschild Boulevard yesterday.

A number of small supermarkets and cafés in the area also have been giving the protesters food.

"The protesters asked me for help," said Levi. "I sent them three days of food: canned goods, mineral water, tuna, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and more," he told TheMarker. "I support the protest, and they are totally right. Housing prices are very high and the middle class is being worn down. The problem is that housing prices have risen irrespective of wages. The government must do whatever it can to make prices reasonable, and it can do so because it controls the land," he added.

The state should stop selling land by tender and switch to lotteries. "Five years ago, a plot in Har Homa [in Jerusalem] cost NIS 100,000. Now it costs NIS 450,000. If there were a fixed price and a lottery, land prices would not be rising, they'd just adjust to inflation. The Israel Lands Administration has created a country for the rich, and whoever has the most money gets the land. Also we need to cap apartment prices," said Levi.

Levi owns quite a bit of real estate himself, mostly commercial space, including his supermarkets and neighboring shopping centers. He is also a real estate developer, and is currently building 400 units in Jerusalem. The homes are slated to be finished in two years, and he is now starting to sell them. Regarding the prices of the apartments in his projects, Levi said: "We will sell at a little less than the market price. You must remember that we bought the land at a high price and we will earn what a developer needs to earn, between 10% and 15%," said Levi.