The Knesset Economics Committee will hold an emergency meeting on the housing
crisis, committee chairman Carmel Shama- Hacohen announced on Sunday, during a
visit to the tentcity protest on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild
Shama-Hacohen and three other members of the joint Knesset
Economics and Interior Committee on the Bill to Accelerate Housing Construction,
Kadima MKs Yulia Shamolov Berkovich and Nino Abesadze, as well as MK Dov Henin
(Hadash), sat in the demonstration’s “living room,” and listened to the
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“Either prices will fall, or the
government will fall – it’s one or the other,” Shama- Hacohen said.
housing crisis is everyone’s crisis, and not just one sector of the population,”
he said. “We didn’t need tents in order to understand it.”
listening to demonstrators’ laments, Shama- Hacohen had an impromptu discussion
with a Knesset staffer on the spot, and added a meeting on the housing crisis to
his committee’s agenda.
“It is the Knesset’s obligation to find a
solution,” the Likud lawmaker said. “Three weeks ago, the prime minister told me
that we need to pass emergency legislation [on the crisis], and I told the
bureaucrats in the relevant government offices that the committee is looking for
specific and immediate solutions to housing for young people – homes for rent at
reasonable rates, and affordable housing.”
Shama-Hacohen also said that
he and MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) had proposed a bill to limit rent
Shamolov Berkovich said, “It’s too bad that there are more
photographers than protesters here, but I’m glad that the media are helping
people notice this social issue. It’s a start.
“The housing crisis didn’t
happen because we don’t have money,” she said. “It’s because we don’t have
compassion. We’re lacking values.
“This is the end of days. I
won’t tolerate a Jewish state where Jews don’t have homes,” the Kadima MK
said. “I want Israel to be the best place to live.”
“lost faith in this country and in one another, but there are many new, young
MKs saying ‘we’re with you,’ and I think time will show this is true,” Shamolov
Henin recommended that the government raise taxes on
owners who do not rent out their empty houses, and that rental rates should be
“People call this a free market – what freedom is there in the
current situation?” he asked.
Abesadze called for the coalition and
opposition to join forces to deal with this “apolitical issue.”
recounted her own experiences as a new immigrant from Georgia in the former
“I came here along with a million others 15 years ago, and
I had to start all over, from nothing,” Abesadze said. “I didn’t have rich
grandparents who could help. I had to work to pay for an apartment.
went straight from unemployment checks to the Knesset,” she said. “I know what
it’s like to have trouble making it through the month.
“The problem isn’t
just for immigrants – it’s young people as well. What kind of future can we
discuss if young people don’t have anywhere to live?” the Kadima MK
Abesadze also said that she and her three daughters would sleep in
the tent city that night.
Meanwhile, Kadima and the Likud blamed each
other for the housing situation.
Kadima announced that its weekly
no-confidence motion, to be presented on Monday afternoon, would be titled “The
Netanyahu government’s failure in solving the housing crisis for citizens of
Israel, specifically young couples.”
Later on Sunday, Kadima leader Tzipi
Livni said that “the government does not encourage renting
Reforms do not replace policies.
“Policies have to
change here and now, by rearranging national real estate and investment
priorities,” she said. “The solution is right under our noses, and it requires
“The government cannot say it is not responsible for
what happens in the market. Even if there is privatization, even if there
was regulation and they removed it, the government needs to have its finger on
the public’s pulse and check itself,” Livni said. “The government needs
to make policies that will make life easier for its citizens, especially the
A Likud spokeswoman said that “Kadima is once again trying
to make headlines in areas where it has already failed. When Kadima was the
ruling party, there was less construction in the center of the
“The housing crisis was worse during Kadima’s time, and they
completely ignored the issue,” the spokeswoman added. “Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu has proposed an increase in output, as well as real-estate reforms
that will speed up planning and construction.
“Kadima talks, while Likud
acts,” she said.
Also on Sunday, MK Uri Ariel (National Union) said, “The
housing crisis is a result of the [settlement] freeze.”
“When you freeze
construction in Alfei Menashe [in Samaria], prices in Kfar Saba increase,” Ariel
“For 10 months, a flourishing and attractive real-estate
market was frozen, leading to the current crisis.
“If the prime minister
really wants to solve the problem for his citizens, tomorrow he will authorize
7,000 apartments in Judea and Samaria,” he suggested. “That is the real