Activists demonstrate against ‘Holyland reform’

Protest held under the slogan “Saying No to shady deals, Yes to responsible planning.”

HOLYLAND 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hundreds of political activists representing nearly all of the country’s political parties took part in a demonstration in Jerusalem on Wednesday against the government’s proposed building and planning reform.
The participants waved Israeli flags and carried banners of their respective parties along with slogans opposing the plan, which they dubbed the “Holyland reform.”
The event was organized by the Green Party, which opposes the initiative for fear that it will compromise the country’s green and open spaces. The greens were joined by youth representatives of Kadima, Likud, Labor, Meretz, National Union and Hadash, as well as members of the Responsible Planning Coalition, a group of 30 social and environmental NGOs that have united to battle the reform.
The demonstration was held under the slogan “Saying No to shady deals, Yes to responsible planning.”
Opponents of the reform claim it will lead to an increase in corruption, fearing reduced public involvement in the planning process will create an opening for bribes.
The Responsible Planning Coalition recently called for the formation of a state investigation committee to look into Israel’s planning and construction system.
Opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni sent a written statement to the participants, saying that the reform could lead to corruption.
“Led by me, Kadima will support any initiative that aims to relieve the suffering of the common citizen who wants to build his house and is faced with an unacceptable series of agonies and public officials for whom promoting his causes are not the top priority,” she wrote.
“Regarding what the prime minister calls the ‘planning and constructionreform,’ which provides excess powers that may lead to corruption onthe local level, Kadima will oppose any move that may, evenunintentionally provide fertile ground for the growth of corruption andenvironmental harm, but at the same time will support any move thatbattles insufferable bureaucracy,” she added.
Among the speakers at the event were Green Party Chairman EranBen-Yemini, Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner, National Union MK Arye Eldad,Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz and Hadash chairman Dov Henin.
The speakers shared in the call for the prime minister to freeze theproposed reform in Israel’s planning authority and enable public debateon its implementation.