Knesset passes housing reform law in final reading

Netanyahu's National Housing C'tees Bill, central part of his housing reform initiative becomes law; protesters vow to intensify protests.

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August 3, 2011 13:04
2 minute read.
Knesset vote [file]

Knesset vote 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The central bill in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's housing reform passed in its third (final) reading on Wednesday 57-45, after a three-day marathon discussion in the Knesset.

Opposition MKs presented their reservations about the National Housing Committees Bill for hours on Monday and Tuesday, and on Wednesday, chairman of the joint Knesset Economics and Interior Committee on the bill Carmel Shama-Hachohen (Likud) and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Atias defended the government's plan.

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Atias compared the current construction planning process to a traffic jam.

"People wait in line for five years, because plans are backed up," he explained, adding that the new bill will drastically shorten the planning process.

The housing minister also addressed the complaints that the bill does not provide enough "accessible housing."

"The real problem is that there is no legal definition for 'accessible housing' – who deserves it, how much money would that person make," Atias explained. "We would have to pass a separate bill for that."

Shama-Hachohen spoke out against those who said Netanyahu and his housing bill are helping real estate tycoons get richer.

He scolded opposition MKs for spreading "senseless hatred, which caused the destruction of the [second] temple on the ninth of Av 2,000 years ago."

"Anyone who saw this bill, or even skimmed it, knows that only the government, municipalities and the Israel Lands Authority can submit plans to National Housing Committees," he pointed out.

The National Housing Committees Bill is one of the central components of Netanyahu’s housing-reform plan. The bill is meant to circumvent usual construction- planning bureaucracy in order to build new homes.

The bill would allow for the temporary formation of six national-housing committees, which would work to accelerate the process of approving building projects in the next year and a half.

There will be one committee in every region in Israel, which will be responsible for providing all of the authorizations necessary to begin construction only for projects with over 200 homes, built mostly on state land and include “accessible housing.”

Reacting to the passage of the bill, opposition MKs slammed Netanyahu in addition to the law itself.

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MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) criticized Netanyahu immediately following the bill's passage. "Despite the social struggle," Horowitz said, "[Netanyahu] imposed the Housing Committee law on the Knesset, and is deceiving the public by saying the Housing Committee Law will solve the housing crisis. Horowitz called the law "a gimmick designed to cover up the failures of the government."

Kadima reacted by called the current government "bloated," saying that "it has also proven that it is also the opaque in Israel's history."

Ministers in the government, the statement added, "speak highly about paying attention to the public struggle but in action, spit on [the public] in the Knesset."


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