(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Israel Land Administration will officially become the
Israel Land Authority, as part of extensive reforms announced by Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.
The passing of the authority to
government control was made possible after Netanyahu signed a collective
agreement at his Jerusalem office on Wednesday, alongside Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz, Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias and Histadrut labor
federation chairman Ofer Eini.
Under the agreement, which was approved by
the authority’s workforce, ILA employees will be given one-off grants of NIS
30,000 – and wages will grow by around 20 percent to a range of between NIS
5,500 and NIS 15,850 per month.
The prime minister said the reforms would
bring about a “historic change” that would allow the authority to deal mainly
with land sales, and to improve its services through the outsourcing of
contracts and leasing. Netanyahu promised that the authority would be more
efficient than its predecessor, and that it would bring in additional experts,
while cutting its workforce and adhering to better management
Some 800,000 housing units will gradually be privatized under
the reforms, including 213,000 that have already been sold to private investors,
Netanyahu said. He added that the aim of the reforms was to increase the supply
of housing land, help speed up market growth, lower the price of construction
land, remove bureaucratic barriers and help the government to implement policy
in communities identified as in need.
Netanyahu said upon signing the
agreement that he had “waited for years for this day.”
“We have a small
country and a population that keeps on growing. We have one of the smallest
countries in the world. Our territory hasn’t gotten any bigger since 1967, and
our population has grown ten-fold. Why don’t we have any supply? Because we have
a bureaucratic surplus in this country,” he said.
In material distributed
to the press, the prime minister brought attention to a 2010 report that ranked
Israel 121st in the world for dealing with construction permits, and 147th for
ease of registering property. He also referred to bureaucratic impediments to
planning and sales, which he said were to blame for an annual shortage of 8,000
Wednesday’s announcement came almost two years after the
Knesset approved Netanyahu’s controversial land reform law to privatize 200,000
acres – or around 4% of the ILA’s holdings – in an attempt to reduce the
bureaucracy surrounding leasing land in Israel.
At the time the law was
passed, the ILA administered 93% of Israeli land.