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Tent Protest Moves to the Next Stage: We're Here to Stay

Housing protest leaders present their demands. "We're here to stay. These problems affect everyone and we need to act together."
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 9/7/2011, 1:08 AM

At a press conference Tuesday morning outside the Knesset, the leaders of the housing protest announced their plans for the next phase of the protest. Working together with a team of experts, the protest leaders unequivocally demanded a new social budget.

The protest leaders announced during the press conference that from now on they would not allow any Knesset member or government minister to ignore the demand for a new budget. The team of experts backed this demand and presented data that show that the budget can indeed be expanded to include the social issues without increasing the deficit.

“More than a million people hit the streets in rallies and in tents over the past two months,” Regev Contes, one of the protest leaders, told Arutz Sheva. “This Knesset behind us is empty. It’s on its summer vacation, and we’re here to call them to return from their vacation because there’s a state of emergency in Israel.”

“We don’t want another committee that will just buy some time until this melts down,” Contes added, referring to the committee headed by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg. “We want an emergency discussion. We want the 2012 budget to be re-discussed and changed according to our demands to allow a welfare state to begin to build itself from its ruins.”

Contes said that some of the protest tents will be removed and that the focus of the protest will shift to holding discussions and to applying pressure on the government and on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“We’re going to take actions that we have yet to decide on and inform the public, but I can inform you that there will be lots of actions during the upcoming holidays,” he said.

“We’re here to stay because our main goal is to do this work that has been neglected for so long: to bring the people in Israel to recognize that they have power and they can communicate,” added Contes.

He added that there is a lot to be learned from the way Orthodox Jews live and operate within their close-knitted communities.

“The hareidim and the ‘settlements’ have their synagogues, they have their own communities, they talk to each other. The secular majority in Israel didn’t have that,” said Contes.

“All problems at all levels are connected,” he added, emphasizing the need for everyone to work together. “If the middle class is hurt the class below it suffers too. This is the main message that people don’t comprehend yet: that we are all one social texture.”