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Doctors in Israel end strike amid economic protests

Reuters

August 25, 2011 | 3:41 pm

Doctors in Israel ended a strike on Thursday that had hamstrung the public health sector for nearly half a year, relieving some pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who faces an unprecedented wave of cost of living protests nationwide.

The doctors strike, which focused on low wages and a shortage of positions, played a big part in drawing hundreds of thousands of Israelis to the streets in recent weeks to demand from the government sweeping economic reforms.

Israeli media said the public sector strike had been the longest in Israel’s history and perhaps peaked when hundreds of medical residents threatened to quit their jobs.

The finance ministry said in a statement the deal it signed with the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) included significant pay increases and a thousand new spots for doctors in the public sector.

“This agreement addresses all the real and serious problems in the health sector,” said Leonid Eidelman, head of the IMA who had gone on a hunger strike for over a week when negotiations with the government hit a dead end. “Today, the health sector embarks on a new path.”

Leaders of the broader protest, who have a list of demands from the government that includes it acts to lower housing prices and increase competition in the economy, are planning further demonstrations throughout Israel this weekend.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch

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