All five papers discuss various issues related to the ongoing wave of socio-economic protests over housing prices and the cost-of-living:
Yediot Aharonot criticizes the national housing committees law that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is championing as a way to bypass the regular planning committees. The author reminds his readers that the law neither sets construction deadlines nor sanctions contractors who do not meet their timetables. The paper points out that "Green organizations are very concerned about the environmental damage that the committees will cause," and believes that construction must not be "at the expense of parks, the land of which has been maintained at considerable effort adjacent to and inside communities, beaches or other open areas, with scant thought about the future." The author asserts that those who oppose the aforesaid law "are not blind. They also know that there is genuine distress but they have a very good answer for Netanyahu. The committees are unnecessary. There is no need to quickly approve more plans; the 160,000 units that have already been approved by the planning committees must actually be built. With a little goodwill – taking care of licensing impediments, laying infrastructures, etc. – it would be possible to start building these 160,000 units tomorrow."
Ma’ariv notes that Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has stated that he opposes shortening the Knesset’s summer recess and adds that "He used high-sounding words like democracy and anarchy," and spoke of the ramifications for MKs’ families. The author contends that "Rivlin does not understand the message from the street, which is very simple. MKs are going on a vacation that will continue until the end of October. Rivlin does not understand what is wrong with this. He does not get it that right now, when the country is witnessing a dramatic struggle for its social future and its priorities, one cannot lock up the Knesset and go home. On the contrary, the Knesset needs to be the central stage that draws to it all public discussion." The paper remarks that "Nobody will destroy the politicians’ summer vacations which they have planned here or abroad on the generous salaries that we pay them. Thanks to the curtains on the black cars, one cannot see either to the left or the right, only straight ahead to the next vacation spot."
Yisrael Hayom says that "We can stop rolling our eyes. The protest is definitely justified but the demonstrators are leftists," but believes that "More than anything, the struggle leaders’ ridiculous demand to negotiate with Netanyahu in front of live cameras attests to their true intentions," and adds that "The goal is to make a scene." The author also criticizes Kadima and Tzipi Livni for failing to articulate a cogent alternative socio-economic message.
Haaretz contends that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears helpless and confused in the face of the wave of social protests and demonstrations,” and asserts that “Now the prime minister is paying the price for sitting on the fence. His popularity is at a nadir, and although there is no immediate political threat against him – his rivals in the Likud are silent and the opposition is not currently perceived as an alternative – he behaves as if his government is in imminent danger of falling, and responds accordingly out of pressure and panic.”
The Jerusalem Post feels that the doctors’ strike, of all the socioeconomic crises roiling the government, is particularly pressing, and eminently solvable. The editor declares that “of all the causes being touted right now, none is more pressing than the dire need to revamp our medical system. The doctors’ strike has been dragging on too long. The prime minister must heed Eidelman’s call and get involved personally. It is, after all, a matter of life and death.”
[Amir Ben-David, Shalom Yerushalmi and Matti Tuchfeld wrote today’s articles in Yediot Aharonot, Ma’ariv and Yisrael Hayom, respectively.]