Apartment in Tel Aviv 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Knesset Interior Committee chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) said on Thursday that he
is fighting to include “accessible housing” in the Subcommittee on Reforming the
Planning and Construction Bill.
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As people continue to demonstrate across
the country, voicing opposition to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recently
approved National Housing Committees Law, the joint Interior-Economics
subcommittee has been working on a long-term reform in planning and
construction, to little fanfare.
Despite being the subcommittee’s
chairman, Cohen has threatened to vote against the government reform if specific
language to build accessible housing is not part of the bill.
the head of this committee three months ago, and I already said then that a bill
with such far-reaching consequences cannot pass without mentioning accessible
housing,” he said.
“Shas has been saying that the housing crisis is very
serious in the haredi and the general population for years,” he
Echoing statements by Shas leader Interior Minister Eli
Yishai, Cohen said the party “proposed a housing plan years ago, but the Prime
Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry said it was too
While the newly passed National Housing Committees Bill will
be applicable for a year-and-a-half in large construction projects that fit
certain criteria, Cohen is working on 619 pages of comprehensive changes to
planning and building codes, which have been mostly unchanged since 1965. Both
bills are meant to shorten the bureaucratic process in planning new
construction, but the reform in the planning and construction bill would change
the entire planning hierarchy in the long term.
“This bill is for the
coming generations that are on the horizon,” Cohen explained.
government needs to think about young people, and make sure they stay in Israel
by providing security, jobs and a roof over their heads.”
In a meeting
earlier this week, MK Dov Henin (Hadash) said he is not optimistic about the
prospect of accessible housing being included in the bill.
“This is a
matter of values, not a technical issue,” he said.
“The prime minister
thinks that the market is responsible for citizens, not the
The result is that the state has abandoned its
Henin also said the committee should demand that the state
build homes for its citizens.
The government proposed the reform in
planning and construction long before the current protests, and the Knesset has
been working on the bill for over a year. Cohen predicts that it will take at
least another six months to complete the work on all of the bill’s hundreds of
clauses in the committee’s weekly fivehour meetings.
Usually, Cohen is
the only MK in the meetings, where he discusses the bill with workers from
relevant government offices.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) has attended a
number of committee meetings, and has voiced opposition to the bill, not only in
connection to accessible housing.
“This bill will severely harm planning
processes,” he said.
“Planning is an important part in social, economic
and environmental policies.”
“The reform will trample planning and
prevent important bodies from being a part of it. It will block the public from
participating by withholding information and preventing appeals, thus making
planning hasty and inadequate,” Horowitz explained.
The Meretz MK added
that the bill does not take access roads into account, nor does it plan for
public buildings. He also said it allows for poor construction quality and does
not consider the environment.
“The reform in planning and construction
mainly serves entrepreneurs who want to make money quickly, while making the
public suffer,” he said.
In response to complaints about the bill, Cohen
explained that “environmental and social organizations often send comments
before the meeting, and we check them and try to change the bill
He added that the committee takes into consideration
complaints and ideas from engineers, architects and lawyers as
“People have a lot of things to say about this bill, and we try to
give everyone a chance, because in the end, we want this to be a good, helpful,
balanced bill,” Cohen said.