A storm of protests against high cost of living shake the government in Israel
A day after nationwide protests that some newspapers said were the largest ever seen in Israel over social issues, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 31 July pledged to set up a task force to examine economic reforms and hear the demands of the protesters. But demonstrators quickly rejected the measures as superficial and vowed to continue their protest, with many planning to participate in a one-day strike today, 1 August.
“This is a manipulative manoeuvre on the part of the prime minister. We go into the street to bring about a change in the system and he is content to set up a commission searching for way to not take responsibility,” protest organiser Daphni Leef said on Israeli television.
Netanyahu stated he understood the genuine hardship faced by many Israelis, but also warned against “hasty” measures he said could throw the country into an economic crisis. the prime ministers popularity ratings took a nose dive over the last weeks few from an approval rate of 50% before the summer to 32% now.
Тhe demonstrations are the largest over social issues seen in Israel since the early 1970s when thousands of people, led by a group called the Black Panthers, took to the streets to rally against racial discrimination suffered by Mizrahi Jews of Middle Eastern descent.
In a possible sign of the toll the unrest could take on the government, Finance Ministry Director General Haim Shani submitted his resignation, the Israeli news website Ynet reported on 31 July. In a letter addressed to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Shani wrote that his decision followed a long-time fundamental difference of opinion and manner of daily work patterns.
(Sources: Al-Jazeera, YNet; 1 August 2011)