Yitzhak Vaknin 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
As reports circulated that Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer was planning
additional restrictions on mortgages, the Knesset was set to meet Wednesday to
discuss the current crisis in the housing market, as well as other pressing
issues in a special recess session.
Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) gathered the
signatures of 24 fellow MKs to call the Knesset into session only two days after
Pessah, almost three weeks before the Knesset is scheduled to reconvene for its
Vaknin requested that the plenum meet to discuss the
housing crisis, as well as rising interest rates, which have hiked the monthly
payments for many mortgage-holders.
On Tuesday, financial sources
reported that lenders could be restricted to offering regular rates for
mortgage-holders who borrow up to 40-50 percent of the total price of the
property, but borrowers seeking funds beyond that 40%-50% rate would face
significantly higher interest rates.
The Bank of Israel is expected to
make an official announcement regarding mortgage rates as early as next
The head of the Knesset Housing Caucus, Miri Regev (Likud), said
Tuesday that she did not believe that such solutions were the correct remedy for
the current rise in housing prices.
Regev, who was not one of the MKs who
signed on to the petition for Wednesday’s special session, offered a number of
alternative solutions to the current housing situation. She proposed that that
20% of the apartments in each new project be reserved for young families at
affordable rates of NIS 600,000 to NIS 700,000.
“As long as the Israel
Lands Authority and the other responsible bodies don’t reduce land prices for
young couples in the periphery and in national priority areas, the prices will
continue to run out of control,” complained Regev.
She called on the
state to quickly clear the way for the construction of tens of thousands of
“There is no reason that our children who serve in the army and do
national service can’t afford a house, while children of the very wealthy alone
can have their parents subsidize their real estate purchases,” she
Regev has also proposed a bill that would allow an exemption from
Value Added Tax for first-time home buyers, a proposal that was opposed by the
Treasury, which would lose significant revenue under such a plan. VAT applies
only to newly built apartments, not to resales.
During the Wednesday
session, the Knesset is also expected to discuss this week’s killing of
Ben-Yosef Livnat, who was shot by Palestinian policemen while trying to reach
Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.
Aryeh Eldad (National Union) and Ze’ev Elkin
(Likud), co-chairs of the Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus, requested Tuesday
that the subject be added to Wednesday’s agenda. The House Committee will meet
shortly before the beginning of the 11 a.m.
plenum session to approve the
Kadima also threw its parliamentary weight behind a
topic for debate Wednesday, gathering 25 signatures to discuss the ongoing labor
dispute between doctors and the Treasury.
Rachel Adatto (Kadima), who is
a physician, complained that “the government has ignored the true problems in
the public health system and the attempts by the Treasury to create spins around
salary gaps will cause doctors to abandon the public system altogether for
private practice, will increase the deep crisis surrounding physicians’ salaries
and manpower, and will harm the harm the excellence of the health system.”