Israeli Lawmaker Ends Hunger Strike, but Vows 'Struggle Will Go On'

A 25-day hunger strike aimed at convincing the Knesset to tax loose tobacco ends after health concerns

Knesset member Yehuda Glick, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem.
Sebastian Scheiner/AP

An Israeli lawmaker ended a 25-day hunger strike staged to convince the Knesset to pass a tax on loose tobacco equal to the tax on cigarettes. Yehudah Glick announced on Saturday night on Twitter and Facebook intentions to end the hunger strike “in order to avoid harming my health and following many appeals from my family and partners in this struggle.”

He further added: “The struggle will go on.”

Glick also said that in the coming days he will meet with Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who Glick said had invited him to meet and discuss the issue. “I hope we will deal with the issue in a meaningful way and not under political pressure,” Glick said.

The tax on cigarettes is more than three times higher than the tax on loose tobacco.

Glick announced his hunger strike on June 11 from the Knesset podium, after calling for a moment of silence for the 3,000 Israelis who had died from by tobacco-related diseases since the beginning of the year. His hunger strike began the following day, on the Knesset’s no-smoking day.

In May, the Knesset approved a crackdown on smoking in public places, including concerts, event halls, sports venues, zoos and parking lots, though the Knesset was exempt. Following the crackdown, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman released figures showing that 22.5 percent of all Israelis over 18 smoke. Litzman also promised to seek ways to raise taxes on rolling tobacco.