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Pushed aside by war, Israel's social justice agenda returns

Despite Operation Protective Edge, large swaths of Israeli society still consider their socioeconomic situation as priority No. 1 and the politicians are listening.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks with Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon after an air force pilots' graduation ceremony at Hatzerim air base in southern Israel June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS) - RTR3VXQB

“Yesh Atid was elected to the Knesset on the back of the social protest and it looks like they are also going to re-ignite it. … If the Treasury presents an anti-social budget proposal [for 2015], it will find that Operation Protective Edge is not the last operation with which it is confronted. 'A social Protective Edge' will be placed at its doorstep.”

Knesset member Eli Yishai of the Shas Party posted this gloomy forecast Aug. 31 on his Facebook page, following the government’s decision on an across-the-board budget cut of 1.9 billion Israeli shekels ($542 million), including the education and health budgets, to fund Operation Protective Edge. This is, of course, a confrontational and disparaging statement by Yishai against his political rival, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who left Yishai and his other Shas friends out of government. But there’s a grain of truth even in such political bickering. In this case, Yishai scored a direct hit on Lapid’s soft underbelly, given that Lapid was catapulted into the Finance Ministry on the back of the social protest that erupted in the summer of 2011.

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