Knesset to address housing crisis; tent cities go up


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Knesset will hold an emergency meeting on Israel’s housing crisis following nationwide protests that included tent cities in Tel Aviv and elsewhere.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday called on the protesters to bring their demonstrations to Jerusalem to help him pass land reform and a bill calling for the formation of national housing committees, which he said will "bring about a genuine start of the housing solution."

The Knesset’s emergency discussion on the housing crisis will take place Monday.

Netanyahu said at the Cabinet meeting that he was aware of the rent and housing crisis. He called them "a blight that has vexed the State of Israel for many years." The prime minister said Israel does not have enough apartments to match the large demand.

"There are not enough apartments because we have two insane bureaucracies that prevent the planning and marketing of apartments," he said. "Today it takes more than five years to plan an apartment in Israel. We are now attacking these two things."

Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters set up more than three dozen tents in central Tel Aviv, saying they will not leave until the government announces a solution to the high cost of housing, particularly in Tel Aviv. Other protesters on Sunday also began setting up tent cities across the country.

The protest originated on Facebook, much like a recent successful campaign against the high cost of cottage cheese. 

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