Green groups slam PM’s reforms: They eliminate open space

Housing plan will deteriorate the quality of life for all citizens, nature protection society says.

Green leaves_58 (photo credit: Yehoshua Halevi)
Green leaves_58
(photo credit: Yehoshua Halevi)
Green groups blasted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new housing plans announced on Tuesday, censuring him for destroying open space and relying on private companies rather than reforming government bodies to tackle the ongoing crisis.
“The prime minister’s attempts to buy the students by means of reforms in planning and building laws is a mockery,” said Amit Bracha, executive director of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam Teva V’Din), in a statement. “The prime minister goes on as usual, and instead of advancing responsible reforms in the Israel Land Administration, he asks to privatize state land to captains of fortune, who will not only build for young couples, but who will also build parks, nature reserves and beaches.
“If instead of spending the NIS 400 million – which will pulverize Israel’s district planning system – Netanyahu would invest this sum in strengthening local committees, there could be an immediate issuing of permits for the more than 110 housing units approved all over the country, which would alleviate the housing shortage of students and young couples,” Bracha added.
Nir Papay, vice president of environmental and nature preservation for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, agreed with Bracha that the prime minister must authorize the units approved on Tuesday and meanwhile “promote reforms in licensing, in order to create a large inventory of apartments, which will enable a price drop without hurting citizens.”
Blaming the prime minister for the fact that there has been no director of the planning administration for 10 months and no planner in Israel’s central district for eight months, Papay admonished Netanyahu for complaining about the bureaucracy of the system while his own government “is drying up the planning institutions, both in budgets and in manpower.”
Meanwhile, he also pointed out that the new measures put forward today “will include superfluous building in open space” and deteriorate the quality of life for all citizens.
“Instead of offering real public building through the state, instead of offering apartment rent control and affordable housing solutions, Netanyahu is proposing additional gifts to contractors, and this time at land prices,” added MK Dov Henin (Hadash), chairman of the Environment and Health committee, in a statement.
“This is the same ideology of a bankrupt person, of shaking off the state from responsibility to its citizens and leaning on the payments of captains of fortune, who are the ‘engine of the market.’” Condemning the prime minister for “his inflexibility to public protest,” Henin warned that “there are limits to the spin that even a salesman as talented as Netanyahu can sell.”
“This time the public will not buy the merchandise,” Henin said. “More and more people in Israel, from the north to the south, are arriving today to the only logical conclusion – that when the government is against the people, the people are against the government.”