Jerusalem municipality seeks Shas cooperation on housing solutions

"We have seen Ariel Attias was professional in his previous position and we expect him to act the same way in the Construction and Housing Ministry," says Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon

ariel attias 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ariel attias 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jerusalem municipality is determined to continue with its plan to pursue housing solutions for all city residents, especially young couples, even as Shas has taken over the Construction and Housing Ministry, senior municipal officials said Monday. The determination to find solutions for the housing crunch and keep young residents in the city, which was a main element in Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's election campaign, was restated a day after Shas MK Ariel Attias took over as construction and housing minister, replacing Ze'ev Boim of Kadima. "We have seen that Attias was professional and businesslike in his previous position in the Communications Ministry, and we expect him to act the same way in the Construction and Housing Ministry," said Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon, head of the municipality's planning and building committee. "Attias is known as someone who supports Jerusalem, and I believe that he will help us as needed in order to find the solutions to the housing problems in Jerusalem," Kahlon said. Building and construction plans in the city are generally carried out between city and state officials, with approval of both sides typically needed for a housing project. Other municipal officials said it was too early to say if there would be a major change in policy under Attias, but noted that the city also had a new mayor and maintained "close cooperation" with top Construction and Housing Ministry officials. "There is no doubt that there is a need for housing in the haredi sector, and some of those solutions will come outside of the city, in new haredi cities," said Roy Folkman, the head of the municipality's strategic planning department. "[But] we want to allow the non-haredi public, including the national religious public, to develop in city neighborhoods without concern." His remarks came amid some secular residents' worries about the increasing 'haredization' of the capital. One-third of the city's 500,000 Jewish residents are haredi. Shas has also been a long-time supporter of building Jewish housing in east Jerusalem and is expected to see eye to eye with the municipality on this issue. More than 250,000 Arabs live in the city. Folkman said he did nor expect any clashes between the city and the new construction and housing minister over building projects for the city's Jewish population. "It is clear to everybody that there is a dearth of housing for everyone, and we are trying to create projects which will be divided among all city residents," he concluded.