Tent City Rally 311.
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The tent protesters on Rothschild Boulevard have hit a sore spot. An apartment
has become a product only for the rich, mortgages are like shadows following
every other Israeli in the street, and rent costs grow ever heavier.
protests on Rothschild Boulevard and in other tent cities across the country are
also the protests of the young people of Efrat, Karnei Shomron and Ariel. The
government’s irresponsibility has led to the building freeze in Judea and
Samaria. It isn’t just the 10-month moratorium that started on November 25,
2009, but also the near-complete freeze since then in almost all the settlements
and big cities of the region.
Instead of using this land to enable
broad-scale housing solutions, the government drags its feet, or worse, stops
all building – not just in settlements deep in the territory; not just in
“outposts” that, at the defense minister’s insistence, are not entitled to the
final signature enabling building plans, but also in bigger settlements in the
heart of the consensus.
According to figures published by the Central
Bureau of Statistics last year, 4,000 people were added to the Judea and Samaria
population in 2009. But housing starts stopped almost completely. During 2009,
1,888 houses and apartments were started; in 2008, 2,107. During 2010, the
building freeze was on, and this year the government has permitted (according to
official data on the Peace Now website) only 1,200 units – a mockery. On top of
that, these are only initial permits, and will take years to
The icing on the cake is that the prime minister has abstained
from even permitting building tenders in Jerusalem.
THE OUTCOME is clear.
Young couples who have considered purchasing new apartments in Judea and Samaria
have given up on the idea and joined the apartment-hunters in the country’s
center – which, of course, adds to the price increases.
building cessation has also raised housing prices throughout the settlements.
According to publications from the past year, there have been 10-25% increases
in apartment prices over the past two years in Ariel, Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh
Adumim, Efrat and Beitar Illit.
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The demonstrating student who dreams of
purchasing a three-room apartment in Kfar Saba doesn’t understand that as well
as the government’s shortcomings and the not-so-simple market, leftist
organizations are also to blame. The student sitting beside him on the grass,
the one who volunteers with Peace Now on Saturdays and goes around settlements
taking pictures of housing starts, is a hidden partner in the increase of
Yes, pressure from extreme left-wing organizations such
as Peace Now, Yesh Din and their allies from the New Israel Fund, frightens the
prime minister and his cabinet, and is stopping them from promoting building
projects and authorizing tenders in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
chain reaction is clear. An apartment-less young couple from Karnei Shomron
moves to Kfar Saba and tries to obtain the same apartment as our student
demonstrating on the Rothschild grass. Competition raises the prices, so the
student comes to the government with his complaints.
THE RIGHT to housing
derives from the basic right of dignity and freedom. It is every citizen’s right
– including those from Efrat and Karnei Shomron – to receive serious answers
from the government regarding the housing issue. It should be made clear that
building along Rothschild Boulevard will not help decrease housing prices;
hastened building in all the Judea and Samaria settlements will. If the
government gets its act together and takes measures in this direction, we might
even be able to help our student from Peace Now buy a 2.5-room apartment in Kfar
Saba for a reasonable price.The writer is director-general of the Legal
Forum for the Land of Israel.
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