Israelis protest austerity measures

TEL AVIV, Israel, May 12 (UPI) -- Thousands of protesters rallied in cities across Israel against austerity measures Finance Minister Yair Lapid has proposed for the 2013 budget.

Protests took place Saturday night in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Modiin, Rishon Lezion and Ashdod, Israeli media reported.


Demonstrators accused Lapid of betraying the middle class, the sector that voted him into power, Israel's Channel 2 reported. Some of the protesters called on Lapid to raise taxes on the rich instead of taking more money from the working class, Israel's Channel One said.

A statement on the Facebook page by protest organizers said: "Instead of a murderous budget that will raise taxes and the income tax paid by workers, the self-employed housewives and the elderly -- the people demand a stop to the free-for-all for tycoons, to give us back our natural resources and stop pouring money into isolated settlements."

Lapid's proposal for the 2013 budget includes raising income and value-added taxes and canceling benefits -- moves that will mainly affect the middle class and the elderly.

Lapid said he was forced to take harsh steps to prevent the collapse of the economy.


"I think there's something legitimate in the anger directed towards me -- we're hurting people in their pockets," The Jerusalem Post quoted Lapid as saying Wednesday night.

"The way I'm proposing the tough times will pass quicker. In two years there will be another situation all together," reported him as saying.

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