Pressure within the coalition was staved off Monday when Shas leaders reached an agreement with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to avoid conflict over a Shas-sponsored bill designed to alleviate some of the housing crunch. Shas Chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Attias, and Deputy Finace Minister Yitzhak Cohen held a last-minute meeting with Steinitz to seek to come to an agreement regarding a bill sponsored by MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas).
Vaknin’s bill, which enjoyed wide support, would offer significant subsidies for young couples buying their first home in the periphery and would enable first-time buyers in multi-family dwellings in the periphery to receive a loan of NIS 140,000 and monthly mortgage subsidies of NIS 800. Vaknin’s bill had been scheduled to have its first reading Monday night, a reading that was cancelled following the afternoon agreement.
Steinitz and the Shas leaders agreed that a NIS 60,000 aid grant would be given to young couples to aid in buying an apartment, as well as NIS 40,000 toward subsidizing improved infrastructures.
Yishai warned, however, that “the struggle to find a solution to the housing crisis was not over despite the significant achievement, and what is important is that we will continue to work to assist in every way possible.”
“The struggle for housing is even more important than the struggle for child subsidies,” said Yishai, referring to an issue frequently advocated by Shas as a coalition-breaker.