(photo credit: Courtesy)
After a heated discussion in the plenum, the Knesset approved on Monday the
first reading of a bill meant to resolve the housing crisis by speeding the
construction of new homes.
The legislation passed with 51 in favor and 20
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The government-sponsored bill, which in an unusual move was
presented to the Knesset by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is an emergency
building plan that would bypass bureaucracy to allow for the quicker
construction of apartments.
The resulting increase in housing is meant to
lower prices, so more young couples can afford to buy homes.
includes the formation of National Housing Committees in each planning district
whose function would be to approve building plans for 200 or more homes that
vary in size. The bill also includes specific time frames for construction to
allow for a “fast track.”
“One of the main reasons for the housing crisis
is a massive bureaucratic bottleneck,” Netanyahu told reporters before the
“It takes three years for a home to be planned – almost a world
record high,” he said.
“I am proposing a green track for planning homes,
which I hope will solve the crisis.”
He added that the bill, which would
be in force for 18 months, would lead to tens of thousands of housing units
The legislation will be prepared for second and third
(final) readings by a joint committee of the Interior and Economics committees,
which will be formed on Tuesday and headed by Economics Committee chairman and
Interior Committee member Carmel Shama- Hacohen (Likud).
leader MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) spoke out against the bill, saying that it is not
enough to remedy the country’s socioeconomic woes.
“Price cuts are
necessary for everything, not just housing,” she said. “Young couples can’t make
it through the month. The cottage cheese struggle has become a struggle over
housing. Parents who wake up in the morning and go to work, save money and want
to know their children will have where to live – discover that every day the
prime minister speaks, but a home is harder and harder to attain.
can’t pay for an apartment with speeches,” Livni added, addressing Netanyahu.
“The prime minister talks about reforms only to get headlines. The gap between
his declarations and their execution, in economics and in other areas, is like
the gap between his arrogance and the reality for young couples in the State of
“We in Kadima will make sure, through legislation, to fix this
bill,” she said.
Last week, coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud)
told The Jerusalem Post
that the bill was a priority for Netanyahu and the
“It won’t be easy for Netanyahu to advance his emergency plan,
but it’s very, very important to stop housing prices from continuing to rise. I
will work to pass it by the end of the summer term [August 7],” Elkin said.