August 10, 2011 - 12:00am

In a show of solidarity with the social protests that are currently sweeping Israel, settler leader Danny Dayan visited activists in Tel Aviv Tuesday, saying that the West Bank settlers share the protesters' grievances.

Dayan, who heads the Municipal Council of Jewish Settlements in the West Bank (Yesha Council), visited the tent complex at Tel Aviv's upscale Rothschild Boulevard, where he met the head of Israel's National Students Union, Itzik Shmuli, one of the protest movement's outspoken leaders.

He said the social agenda and aspirations of the West Bank settlers were not different from those of the protesters in Tel Aviv and other cities in the country, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"The price of diapers in Beit El is the same as in Ramat Aviv," Dayan said, in reference to one of the West Bank's prominent communities and an affluent neighborhood in northern Tel Aviv.

The West Bank settlers and the ultra-Orthodox community have been noticeably absent from the protests that have rattled Israel for the past three weeks. The protest movement is mainly led by the country's secular middle class disgruntled over the lack of affordable housing and spiraling living costs.

Dayan said many people in the settler community have opted not to take part in the protests, citing the possibly dubious political motives of their leaders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far refused to meet with them, claiming that they represent a left-wing agenda aimed at toppling the government.

The New Israel Fund, which largely supports left-of-center issues, was an early financial backer of the protests, and recently sent an urgent email request to donors to continue funding its activities.

Dayan said he hoped the social struggle will not be politicized.

Student leader Shmuli said Dayan's visit to Tel Aviv attested to the protests' nonpartisan nature.


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