Shas chairman Eli Yishai warned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday
that if Shas’s proposal for solving the housing shortage is not adopted, his
party would leave the coalition.
Threats to leave the coalition – which
were once delivered frequently by the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party – have
become increasingly rare for Shas. Yishai’s spokesman said this particular
threat should be taken seriously.
“If the housing crisis is ignored, I
declare that there will be a coalition crisis,” Yishai said in an interview with
Ma’ariv. “We intend to present the cabinet a series of proposed solutions for
the housing shortage in two weeks. If they aren’t accepted, we will immediately
quit the government.”
Yishai’s spokesman declined to elaborate on what
Shas’s proposal would be, beyond saying that it would eliminate bureaucracy in
cases where government ministries prevent the advancement of building
Likud sources said Netanyahu was not overly concerned about the
threat because Yishai has too much to lose by leaving the coalition.
sources blamed the threat on Yishai’s own political problems, including the
expected return of former Shas leader Aryeh Deri.
The Likud sources said
that if Yishai’s threat to leave the coalition was serious, he would not delay
it for two weeks until after the Knesset’s recess begins on August
Netanyahu’s own solution for solving the crisis, called the National
Housing Bill, is expected to pass its final readings in the Knesset ahead of the
recess. The bill passed a joint session of the Knesset Economics and Interior
The prime minister praised the members of the
committees for the quick passage of the bill. He instructed Economics Committee
Chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen to expand the bill to earmark land for apartment
units that would be rented for at least 10 years. The step is intended to
provide affordable housing.
“The national housing law will provide a
green light to expediting planning,” Netanyahu said. “In upcoming days we will
complete the reforms of the Israel Lands Authority and the bill that gives a tax
break from capital gains tax for housing that was changed from businesses to
residential. All this was done in order to increase the available apartments and
MK Dov Henin (Hadash) attacked the government for not
including in the bill more guarantees that affordable apartments would be built.
He said the bill allowed contractors to construct luxury apartments instead of