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Israel parliament approves housing bill, protests continue


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Israel parliament approves housing bill, protests continue

2011-08-04 19:19:39 GMT+7 (ICT)

JERUSALEM (BNO NEWS) -- Israeli parliament on Wednesday passed a controversial housing bill aimed at resolving the country's current housing shortage, despite the objection of activists, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

The bill, which was passed by a vote of 57 to 45, will slash red tape for construction by setting up national committees to approve new housing projects. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has strongly promoted the bill as the solution to the housing crisis, decided to bring the bill to a vote before the parliament's summer break.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters blocked major roads in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Be'er Sheva on Wednesday to protest the bill. Leaders of the housing protest movement that has been gaining momentum across Israel in recent weeks criticized the passing of the bill and announced new large demonstrations for Thursday and Saturday.

The chairman of the National Students Union, Itzik Shmuli, said that all groups in the housing campaign opposed the government's approval of the housing law, which "defied the public and choked the chance for trust and dialogue". Netanyahu had announced on Sunday the formation of a ministerial committee to negotiate with the housing activists and formulate solutions to the country's current economic troubles.

Demonstrations have been held across several cities to protest surging real-estate prices and the housing shortage in the country for more than two weeks. More than 100,000 people took to the streets on Saturday to protest the spiraling costs of living, and for the first time since the beginning of the protests, a rally involving both Jews and Arabs took place in central Nazareth.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-08-04

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