Sunday, July 31, 2011

'Protesters leading Israel into anarchy'

A protester wears a mask of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a rally in front of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem July 31, 2011.

Source: Press TV

The Israeli finance minister has warned that the demands of the protesters would either turn Israel into “anarchy” or bring about an economic crisis like those facing the US or Europe.

The warning on Sunday comes a day after some 150,000 protesters marched in over ten cities across Israel to protest against the high costs of living and social inequalities.

"We see the talk about the debt crisis in Europe. We are even hearing talk of a possible default in the United States … my supreme duty is to ensure we do not reach this situation in Israel," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said.

He further rejected a call by protesters, demanding authorities to stop industry leaders, which they accuse of inflating the price of consumer goods and services, Reuters reported.

"We will not part with our principles. We will not create anarchy here," Steinitz said.

"We will attend to (market) concentration but we will not turn the rich and the business people and the investors and the industrialists into the enemies of the people, because they are part of a healthy economy."

Tens of thousands of Israelis have in the past weeks protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's economic and social policies.

The demonstrators have explained that they can no longer afford the sky-rocketing housing prices, which have jumped by 50 percent in recent years, as well as the high cost of fuel, food and healthcare.

The protests revealed the deep frustration of the country's middle-class over the economy.

Additionally, several protesters on Thursday occupied the roof of the Tel Aviv stock exchange in what one of them termed a “symbolic gesture” against Netanyahu's handling of the economy.

"Ten big companies control 80 percent of the stock market and take all the fruits of the growth in the national economy," one of the protestors said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Finance Ministry Director-General Haim Shani announced his resignation on Sunday morning, over differences with Steinitz.

Furthermore, in a bid to quell the protests, Netanyahu is reportedly setting up a team to examine the possibility of lowering taxes.

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