Four papers discuss various issues related to the ongoing wave of socio-economic protests over housing prices and the cost-of-living:
Yediot Aharonot claims that the Bank of Israel, under Governor Prof. Stanley Fischer, "is concerned over momentary steps, the goal of which is to placate daily protests and deal with them by handing out brightly-colored candies and finding all kinds of scapegoats, from ‘anarchism’ to ‘cartelization’. The Governor is averse to demagoguery and speaks angrily against ‘magic solutions’. He expects the politicians to show understanding for the distress – but also to take tough measures." The author contends that the Bank of Israel leadership would like to see the Government thoroughly reexamine its budgetary priorities and consider reducing, or even eliminating, import duties on various products in order to put downward pressure on the cost-of-living.
Haaretz remarks on the call by mayors and real estate figures – who see the housing protest as a political and economic opportunity – to initiate rezoning of agricultural land for building purposes, and declares: “Housing reform should not come at the expense of the environment.” The editor adds that “The government must remove the obstacles and expand the supply of housing in a way that the public can have faith in, and not as assets of nature and land valuable to all of us because of momentary political pressure.”
Ma’ariv contends that the current protest movement "has no head and no political common denominator." The author believes that "It is impossible to define a typical protestor," and adds that "They know how to shout about what they are protesting against but fall silent when they are asked to explain what they favor." The paper agrees that "The cost-of-living has become unbearable," but urges the demonstrators not to advocate measures that will sow "economic ruin," and "lead to anarchy." The author calls on the protestors to act democratically and reminds his readers that "In the last election, many preferred to stay at home and turnout reached 65%. Those who did not vote are invited to do so in the elections due to be held in February 2013 (assuming they are held on time)."
Yisrael Hayom urges the Government to hold a dialogue with the protest movement and reminds the latter that "There is a list of priorities and they cannot have everything immediately." The author warns that, "In the absence of a spirit of compromise and of sagacity, the situation is liable to deteriorate to dangerous places that both sides wish to avoid but are liable to find themselves in."
The Jerusalem Post calls for more regulation of the Israeli bond market in light of attempts by various Israeli business tycoons to postpone payments or otherwise restructure their corporate debt. The editor notes that many private investors – as well as the entire bond market – will potentially be affected by this, and declares that “Fundamentally, Israel needs more stringent regulation to protect investors so that the economy can keep going.”
[Sever Plocker, Yehuda Sharony and Dan Margalit wrote today’s articles in Yediot Aharonot, Ma’ariv and Yisrael Hayom, respectively.]