Housing protesters block Knesset

"Bibi is trying to trick us by passing a law that will encourage luxury housing for the wealthy only."

About 100 demonstrators are protesting at the entrance to the Knesset against the National Housing Commissions Law (to accelerate housing construction) and against the intention that has emerged in the past few days not to include the element of affordable housing in the law. At the same time, the Knesset session for giving the second and third readings was delayed until next week.

Demonstrators, including social and environmental movement members, some of whom are living in tents on Rothschild Blvd in Tel Aviv, and young people from peripheral areas, are currently blocking the main roads leading to the Knesset. The demonstrators are protesting against the National Housing Commissions Law, saying that they do not trust the government, since they have the impression that the affordable housing clause will not be included in the law. They claim that the law, which was approved last week in the joint Interior Ministry and Finance Ministry committees meeting for second and third readings, will only worsen the current real estate bubble, will sustain the preference for luxury towers and homes for the wealthy, and will perpetuate the current situation.

Placards that protesters are holding read, "Welfare state now," "Real estate tycoons are laughing, and the people are crying," "Netanyahu, don't sell us out".

Later today, the social and environmental organizations intend to hold a protest rally at the Knesset against the non-inclusion of the affordable housing element in the bill to accelerate housing construction. These organizations include the Coalition for Affordable Housing in Israel, The Battle for the Home, The Responsible Planning Group, Bimkom, Dror Israel Movement, the JNF, Israel Union for Environmental Defense, Green Course, Ami and others.

In a preliminary letter that they sent, the protesters claim that, "At the same time that the tent protests are spreading throughout Israel, Bibi is trying to trick us, and to squash the tent protest by passing a law that will encourage luxury housing for the wealthy only. The prime minister claims that this is the solution to the housing crisis, but the organizations believe that this is a quick bypass for the real estate sharks and will serve only their interests. We will not allow the government to squeeze the public out of the planning process. We will promote affordable housing while preserving our health, quality of life, and the environment, which belongs to all of us.

The environmental association "Israel Union for Environmental Defense" called the National Housing Commissions Law a, "Draconian law that will hurt the weak, damage the environment, and pulverize the State of Israel's planning system and added, Netanyahu's "Supertanker" law will allow the building of wealthy neighborhoods only, outside of the cities, and in place of parks, nature reserves and beaches".

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 25, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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