President Shimon met with representatives of the housing protest on Monday, after meeting with leaders of the doctors' protest on Sunday.
"I've been following what's going on along with the rest of the public," he said. "And what impressed me the most about you is your innocence, I believe you. I don't think the protest is artificial, but genuine and very serious.
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"I also think the majority of the public was surprised with the seriousness of the problem. The general impression is that the middle class can manage, they didn't know how serious the matter is," Peres said.
"I believe in my heart that this problem can be solved," he added. "I like the civilized manner in which you conduct yourselves – without violence, it honors democracy. In democracy one can protest and you do that in a dignified manner. That is why you have captured the peoples' hearts."
Peres and housing protest leaders (Photo: Avi Peretz)
Student Union Chairman Itzik Shmuli said: "What we all here have in common is that ultimately we want to see Israel as our home. We are fighting for the right to build a future for ourselves in Israel.
"There is no personal issue, no hidden political agenda, all we want is to persuade the government to move from a slightly aggressive economy to something more humane; from looking at numbers to looking at people."
Daphni Leef, who initiated the protest, stressed that the struggle does not only concern the middle class but weaker sectors of society. "I think we as a society are no longer embarrassed that we're having a hard time coping."
Stav Shapir said, "In the past few weeks I have learned that I love our nation very munch. I've seen Right and Left, Jews and Arabs, strong and weak sit inside a tent and talk."
Earlier on Monday, the protestors issued a statement acknowledging their mistake in insisting on having cameras to document any negotiations with the prime minister.
The protest leaders appeared satisfied after the meeting. "It's the first time someone so high ranking is looking me at the eye, that's how we all felt," Leaf said. "The president understands the plight of all sectors of society."
Nevertheless, they stressed they will not suspend their protest even during negotiations with the prime minister.
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