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Israel has been having its fair share of domestic and international problems recently. Tel-Aviv has become the latest staging ground for large-scale demonstrations which protesters rallying against economic stagnation and dwindling opportunities for Israelis.
The social protest movement boasted an estimated 500,000 people who marched down Rothschild Boulevard where a massive tent has been put up to initially demonstrate against rising housing prices. The protests have been fueled by dissatisfaction with the direction of the Israeli economy – a historically state-run enterprise that has been increasingly privatized in recent years.
The latest rally in Tel-Aviv on September fell short of its advertised goal of one million people. Protests in other cities added to the numbers with tens of thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets around the country, according to local reports.
Israeli Arabs, a large number of whom live below the poverty level, have joined the demonstrations, lending credence to the assertion that the whole of the Israeli population is represented and not just the elites or upper/middle classes. A row with Turkey has also threatened to boil over after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to apologize for last year’s military action aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara.
A recently released UN report has established that Israeli commandos used unreasonable force during the raid of the ship. Netanyahu regretted the loss of life but refused to apologize, saying that Israel would unconditionally defend its soldiers “in every forum.” In response, Turkey expelled its Israeli ambassador, froze all military agreements and pacts with Israel and threatened legal action against the country.
Relations between Israel’s right-wing coalition lead by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a champion of the Palestinian cause, have never been robust but seems likely to become even icier in the future.
The Palestinian Authority is also gearing up for an imminent bid for final status – effectively statehood – as the United Nations Generally Assembly reconvenes. Although the Obama administration has promised to exercise the United State’s veto power if the measure were to come before the Security Council, the bid comes at a bad time for Israel internationally.
It threatens to highlight the state’s decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territories, as well as alleged human rights violations there. These economic, social, and international travails are making the way forward seem even hazier for Israel.
In the past year, both the botched raid on the aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip and the government’s defiant refusal to halt further construction of settlements in occupied territory, have skewed the image of Israel to the world — especially in conjunction with a recent ceasefire-violating missile strike in Gaza. Israel seems to have alienated itself from its allies and the international community at large.
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