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Mass Economic Protests Continue in Israel


Leaders of a social protest movement in Israel say mass demonstrations will again be held on Saturday throughout the country to demand further reforms of the Israeli economic system.

Activists say demonstrations will be held in Beersheba, Haifa and at least nine smaller cities, in an attempt to express solidarity with protest movements that have sprung up in Israel's rural communities.

The demonstrations began last month when social activists set up a tent camp on an upscale Tel Aviv street to highlight the high cost of real estate.

Last Saturday, over 300,000 people rallied in the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and several other cities, in what was considered to be among the largest coordinated protest movement in Israeli history.

Many of the demonstrators have complained of low salaries, high taxes and rising prices of gas and food.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week a commission would propose economic reforms and hold negotiations with demonstrators. But many protesters have rejected calls for opening dialogue with the government, saying additional reforms should first be made.

Mr. Netanyahu's conservative government has responded to the protests by passing a law to free up land for construction and offering tax breaks. Protest leaders have dismissed those steps as insufficient.

Some recent polls have shown a sharp drop in Mr. Netanyahu's approval ratings and strong support for the protesters.

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Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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