Israel announces housing reforms amid large protestsby Yolande Knell, bbc.co.uk
July 26th 2011
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has announced a series of reforms to address the country's growing housing crisis.
He said his plans would bring "huge changes" and significantly improve the housing situation of young couples, students and demobilised soldiers.
Protests over a lack of affordable housing have continued for 12 days.
Demonstrations have taken place outside parliament and protesters have blocked roads in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Speaking at a news conference, Mr Netanyahu acknowledged there was a "real problem" and said that new government committees would be set up to deal with it.
He promised to cut bureaucracy which he said was "unique to Israel", improve public transportation and promote low-rent housing.
The prime minister said the applications to build more than 50,000 new homes would be fast-tracked over the next year and a half.
A new poll published by Israel's Haaretz newspaper suggests there is wide support for ongoing demonstrations over high housing prices and soaring living costs which have seen some young people sleeping outside in tent camps.
The figures indicated 87% of people backed the protests while more than half said they were unhappy with the way Mr Netanyahu had handled the issue.
Original Page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14289953
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