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Israeli parliament debates economics

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 01:51

Aug. 16 - Escalating protests over the cost of living in Israel force the country's politicians back from summer break early. Andrew Potter reports.

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At a time when they're usually on holiday Israel's politicians are back in the country's parliament the Knesset. They've broken their summer recess to debate an issue that's bubbled up through street protests. On Saturday tens of thousands took to the streets of Beersheba and the northern city of Haifa to protest against the surging cost of living in Israel. A quarter of a million turned out a week earlier, in the biggest socio-economic demonstrations the country has ever seen. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni took aim at the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) OPPOSITION LEADER TZIPI LIVNI SAYING: "This protest made them realise that despite the fact that they did everything that they were told to do and studied and invested and kept a tight budget and tried to save up -- the fact that they can't finish a month, does not mean that they are not okay -- it's because the country is not okay with them." The protests have gone beyond one-off demonstrations. This tent city is in central Tel Aviv is growing rapidly, and so is the frustration about a lack of government action. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RESIDENT OF TENT CAMP, LEONID MITELPUNT, SAYING "It's a good start to see that they come from their vacations and they don't take their time off and they just don't care about what's going on, they come for a meeting and they do want to discuss but the thing is that if they continue to do the same politics, so we couldn't get anything." The anger at home has come as a surprise in a country where politics are normally dominated by national security. Israel's economy is expected to grow by around five percent this year. It also boasts low unemployment compared to many western countries. That might not be enough for Israel's middle classes who say they're not feeling the benefits of the country's economic success. Andrew Potter, Reuters

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Israeli parliament debates economics

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 01:51