Housing agreement between Likud, UTJ will cost NIS 50 billion, Liberman says

Liberman called the clause "delusional," and argued that it had serious consequences for the economy.

Avigdor Lieberman, former Israeli Defence Minister and head of Yisrael Beytenu party speaks during a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel May 30, 2019 (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Avigdor Lieberman, former Israeli Defence Minister and head of Yisrael Beytenu party speaks during a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel May 30, 2019
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

A provision in the coalition negotiations between the Likud and United Torah Judaism that ensures that 15% of every construction project of over 1,500 units will be reserved for the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) public will cost Israeli taxpayers over NIS 50 billion, outgoing finance minister MK Avigdor Liberman argued on Twitter on Thursday.

Army Radio reported on the new provision on Thursday morning. The Likud denied the report.

Liberman called the clause "delusional," and argued that it had serious consequences for the economy.

"Not only will the government be fined NIS 100,000 over infractions of this provision for the benefit of a fund that will be under the exclusive control of the [incoming] housing minister Yitzhak Goldknopf, there is no doubt that a significant part of the cities will simply stop marketing and will not agree to this dictate, and thus the supply will be significantly reduced," Liberman reasoned.

The 15% of apartments in large projects will both require a high-cost investment and will reduce the attractiveness of the rest of the apartments in the project that are intended for the general public, he wrote.

Liberman wrote that according to his calculation, these housing benefits coupled with the loss it creates in the general public amounts to a "minimalist" cost estimation of NIS 50 billion.

 LIKUD LEADER BENJAMIN Netanyahu shakes hands with United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Goldknopf in the Knesset last week. If Netanyahu’s promise of a full budget for all haredi educational institutions is realized, the already-low incentive to provide core studies will disappear entirely. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) LIKUD LEADER BENJAMIN Netanyahu shakes hands with United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Goldknopf in the Knesset last week. If Netanyahu’s promise of a full budget for all haredi educational institutions is realized, the already-low incentive to provide core studies will disappear entirely. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Liberman says new gov't plan will turn cities haredi

"The new government established a new order of priorities - Israeli citizens who serve in the army and pay taxes are forced to buy expensive apartments while those who do not serve in the army and do not pay taxes buy cheap apartments," he argued.

Liberman claimed that the provision also included a decision that a neighborhood of Kiryat Gat with 45,000 expected units would go solely to the haredi community. He called the decision "scandalous," and argued that it will turn Kiryat Gat into a completely haredi city.

"It is clear that only members of the haredi sector will be able to purchase apartments in that neighborhood, and it is clear that the purchasing price for them will be dramatically lower than the market," Liberman wrote.

Coalition negotiations in full flow as Bibi seeks to form gov't

Coalition negotiations between the Likud and UTJ continued on Thursday behind the scenes, while most of the public attention was directed at the legislative battles in the Knesset.

The sides agreed on a deal regarding which positions UTJ will receive in the upcoming government and coalition, but are still negotiating on a number of additional legislative and executive demands.

Channel 12 reported on Wednesday evening that the sides had reached an agreement regarding one of the most contentious issues of haredi national or IDF service. According to the report, the Knesset will first legislate a Basic Law that encodes Torah study as a national value. The sides will then proceed to legislate a law regarding haredi military service. This law will serve as a precondition for UTJ's supporting the budget. If the draft law is eventually challenged in the High Court, UTJ hopes to defend its legality with the aforementioned Torah study Basic Law.

The Likud denied the report, saying in a statement on Thursday that the sides had only agreed on a "framework for debate" and not on a specific law.

KAN News on Wednesday night reported another slew of provisions in the deal between the Likud and UTJ, aimed at increasing haredi participation in the private and public workforce.

These provisions included one in which the government will develop criteria to recognize a series of certificates that will be considered the equivalent of a bachelor's degree in tenders that demand one, such as a certificate of five years of "significant" work experience, or a teaching certificate from seminars.

A similar provision would set criteria for therapists of different kinds who underwent professional training but do not hold bachelor's degrees to receive a qualifying certificate to work in their fields.

Yet another provision would change the law that states that 7% of public workers must be haredi, to 12% by 2027.

The government will also set a NIS 15 million budget for a five-year plan to integrate haredim into public jobs, according to the report.