'IDF soldiers, taxpayers must receive priority on housing'

Meseznikov, Livni critique Israel Land Authority criteria for affordable housing.

February 2, 2012 03:30
3 minute read.
Livni speaks at Herzliya Conference

Livni speaks at Herzliya Conference 390. (photo credit: Courtesy of Kadima)

Coalition and opposition MKs continued to slam new Israel Land Authority criteria for affordable housing at a meeting of the Knesset Local Authorities Caucus on Wednesday.

Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov presented Israel Beiteinu’s position on the ILA program, which gives more eligibility points towards affordable homes to those who served in the IDF – but not to families in which both parents work.

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“This is a war on our home, and our right to buy a home,” he said. “The rule should be that whoever gives [to the state] should get in return.”

Meseznikov commended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Attias for including points for those who served in the IDF, but said that the change is insufficient.

Calling the current situation “twisted,” the tourism minister said that employment – even if it is part-time – should be a prerequisite for eligibility for affordable housing.

“This is important for the lion’s share of Israel’s population, the majority that was quiet for a long time, but not anymore,” Meseznikov said.

However, he added, Israel Beiteinu does not see this as a reason to leave the coalition. Rather, the party will work within the government to “bring social justice, without banging on the table, making threats and further dragging the country into electionsmania.”

According to opposition leader Tzipi Livni, affordable housing is possible, as long as the government changes its priorities.

She also called for those who serve in the IDF and pay income tax – “those who joined the public protest” – to receive more eligibility points.

As long as ministers don’t feel the consequences of the housing crisis personally, there will not be a real change, she added.

“This is a political battle, and as long as we act like there is no opposition and coalition in these matters, there will not be any demands for change,” Livni stated.

MK Ze’ev Bielski (Kadima), the caucus chairman, said that the issue is not political, and crosses party lines because it affects all of Israel.

He added that this meeting is “expressing the cry” of those who are not receiving housing, which he called one of the basic things a government must give its citizens.

According to Bielski, most newlyweds are not able to support themselves without their parents’ help. “We need equal distribution,” he said.

MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu) took issue with the fact that single parents are almost automatically ineligible for affordable housing, because being married adds points.

The major reasons for eligibility points should be IDF or national service, and working and paying income tax, she said.

“Otherwise, affordable housing will exist – but not for the general public,” Kirschenbaum explained.

Knesset Housing Caucus Chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud) pointed out that the topic of affordable housing is not new, and that it includes public housing programs and homes for rent, neither of which were addressed by other MKs in the meeting.

“Employment is not the most important issue when it comes to housing,” Regev said. “First and foremost, everyone should have a roof over his head, whether he bought or rented it.”

She explained that affordable rental homes are also necessary.

“Whoever thinks last summer’s protests are over is mistaken,” MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) stated.

“People have expectations and we have to fill them.”

Plesner emphasized the need for “equality in carrying the public burden,” which he said should be expressed in the ILA criteria.

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