Meretz public housing protest 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday gave the state two weeks to respond to a
Meretz petition to implement the 1998 Public Housing Law that was passed to help
the poor buy their apartments.
Meretz MK Ilan Gilon and other activists
filed the petition and led demonstration in front of the courthouse in which
former MK and sponsor of the law Ran Cohen participated.
continues as usual to turn away from the poorer sectors. The request for
an extension is an additional stamp of injustice for the Netanyahu government to
evade and indirectly refuse to execute the law regarding improving public
housing,” Gilon said.
“We expect the High Court to address the issue
quickly and to obligate implementing the law immediately,” he
Outgoing Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias (Shas) and
outgoing Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) were being sued in the
petition, which demanded that both ministers take actions under the law
necessary to implement its provisions.
The two petitioners who are
claiming they have been harmed by non-implementation of the law live in Herzliya
and claim that the authorities have refused to sell them their public housing
unit even though the petitioners say they can fulfill the law’s conditions for
According to the petition, although the law was approved
in 1998, its implementation has been repeatedly frozen since then and all the
way until January 1, 2013.
The petition lamented the extended official
freezing of the law, but mostly focused on the idea that now that the law was
“unfrozen” on January 1, it must be implemented immediately.
allows the less wealthy living in public housing to buy their apartments at set
It also stipulates that all money obtained by the sales of
public housing under the law must be used to promote more public
The petition said that despite a general freeze, the state had
used the law four times for temporary set periods and in specific areas to
implement a series of significant sales of public housing.
3,800 units were sold, 16,070 units were sold from 2000-2004, from 2005-2010
10,030 units were sold in the sales offering “This is my house,” and from
2008-2010 3,500 units were sold in the sales offering “My
Still, throughout this period, all sales were limited to
certain age groups, locales and other categories that, according to the
petition, significantly limited use of the law for most or many of the
population whom it was passed to help.
Moreover, during that time, the
revenue from the four sales offerings totaled NIS 2.75 billion, said the
petition, noting that none of the money was used to promote public housing as
required by law.