Pagoda House 521.
(photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)
The Israel Lands Authority’s managing council approved Construction and Housing
Minister Ariel Attias’s affordable housing program Monday, despite criticism
from within the government over the exclusion of workforce participation from
the eligibility criteria.
A last-minute agreement between Attias, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to increase the
weight given to military service ensured the vote passed. The program now
requires Steinitz’s signature for it to come into effect.
housing program stipulates that the ILA publish “price for occupancy” tenders
according to the following criteria: 45 percent of units will be allocated to
families with children aged three years or more; 35% to families with children
aged one or two; and the remaining 20% to individuals aged 35 or more, or to
families without children.
Priority will be given in half of the tenders
to specific sectors of the population, according to a points system: Men who
served in the Israel Defense Forces will receive 20 points, and – following the
last-minute amendment – women who performed military or national service will
receive 10 points.
Married couples will be eligible for up to 70 points –
depending on how long they have been married – instead of the 80 points
originally proposed by Attias.
“The purpose of this change is to make the
Israeli dream come true for young couples, and allow them to buy a home,” the
prime minister said at a Likud faction meeting on Monday.
out against critics of the program who argue it discriminates against families
in which both parents work, saying that two-thirds of the homes would be
allocated to such couples. The other third is not only for haredi families, he
said, adding that there are non-haredi lower-income families where only one of
the parents work.
The prime minister said that one of the most important
factors in housing reform is location. He said he asked the director-general of
his office to head a committee that will ensure that affordable homes be built
throughout the country, to ensure there are “equal opportunities in housing for
all segments in society.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose
Israel Beiteinu party opposed the program when it was unveiled last week, called
the new standards for affordable housing “a step in the right direction, but not
Israel Beiteinu will not accept the new standards if they do not
give priority to those who work and pay income tax, in addition to those who
serve in the IDF, Lieberman explained.
“This is the way Israel Beiteinu
wants to see the standards, and we will act to make it happen.”
Minister Stas Meseznikov of Israel Beiteinu said that Netanyahu and Shas’s
Attias will have to “answer to the public that took to the streets this summer”
to protest the housing crisis. Meseznikov said the program must be brought to
the cabinet for approval, and called on Netanyahu and Attias to do so as soon as
possible, to avoid “unpleasantness” in the coalition.
Ehud Barak also criticized the program while speaking at the weekly meeting of
his Independence faction, and said it needed to be revised.
opposition parties except for the National Union highlighted housing in their
weekly no-confidence motions in the Knesset. None of the motions
Itzik Shmuli, chairman of the National Union of Israeli Students
and a vocal critic of the program since its unveiling, said Netanyahu’s
last-minute intervention was unsatisfactory, and demanded the prime minister
intervene to make participation in the workforce one of the conditions for
receiving affordable housing.
Rabbi Uri Regev, director of religious
freedom advocacy group Hiddush, said the program promoted “social injustice,
rather than social justice,” and accused Netanyahu and Steinitz of being
motivated by politics and currying favor with the ultra-Orthodox
Giving preference to married couples constitutes “a humiliation
and disregard for the needs of the vast majority of the public, who risk their
lives serving in the army, but who get married much later than haredi couples,”
Regev said.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.