Incoming housing minister says he is unaware of housing crisis

Israel's presumptive next housing minister is hit with the realities of finding housing in Israel in the 2020s.

A HOUSING CONSTRUCTION project in Israel. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A HOUSING CONSTRUCTION project in Israel.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

“There is always talk of a housing crisis… I was not familiar with the Construction and Housing Ministry, and I do not know that there is a crisis. I see that there is construction throughout the country,” United Torah Judaism chairman Yitzhak Goldknopf said Wednesday at the Muni Expo 2022, a conference of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel.

Goldknopf is UTJ’s candidate to serve as the next construction and housing minister.

Housing prices have risen about 19.8% over the past 12 months, according to the latest data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Goldknopf said he would vastly expand current construction.

"Overground" vs. "underground"

 Israelis set up tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, to protest against the soaring housing prices in Israel and social inequalities, on June 19, 2022.  (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90) Israelis set up tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, to protest against the soaring housing prices in Israel and social inequalities, on June 19, 2022. (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

There was an “overground Israel” and an “underground Israel,” he said at the conference, which was hosted by Walla and 103FM. “The underground is where young people live in parking lots, alcoves and underground units. Our goal is to take them out of there.”

Goldknopf pledged to work on behalf of all of Israel’s citizens and not just the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sector. He also said his ministry would need additional funding to speed up construction.

The Likud and UTJ announced late on Tuesday night that they had reached agreements over the roles that UTJ MKs would receive in the government and Knesset. In addition to the Construction and Housing Ministry, UTJ is expected to receive the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage portfolio, three deputy ministers and four Knesset committee chairmanships.