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      Katz: Freeze Outweighs Efforts to Restrain Housing Prices

      While Netanyahu plans frequent periodic steps to lower housing prices, opponents say the construction freeze trumps all such measures.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 12/1/2010, 1:20 PM / Last Update: 12/1/2010, 5:46 PM

      Flash 90

      While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans frequent periodic steps to lower housing prices, opponents say the construction freeze trumps all such measures.

      MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), head of the National Union party, says the ongoing de-facto construction freeze in Jerusalem and much of Judea and Samaria renders the government's attempts to lower housing prices "as effective as cupping-glasses for the dead" [very ineffective – ed.].

      Speaking to a convention of journalists this week, Netanyahu said he plans additional measures to put an end to the skyrocketing housing prices in Israel. "Over 90% of the state lands were held, until a year ago, by the Israel Lands Authority," Netanyahu said. "We have great density, and we have to increase the supply of land both in the long term and the short term."

      He added that the government will be investing 30 billion shekels over the course of the coming decade in improving transportation from the Galilee and Negev to the center of the country. Another planned measure are reforms in the Planning and Construction Committee. "We have announced three steps lately," Netanyahu told the Globes business news service, "and we will announce new ones from time to time, every few weeks. We will make sure to either stop or slow down the rate of the housing price jumps. I have also nullified a ban by the previous government on construction in the center of the country."

      Katz: Nothing Will Help While Freeze Continues
      MK Katz says it's all a waste of time. "I congratulate the Housing Minister [Ariel Attias of Shas] who told the Knesset  and the Finance Committee that since this government began its term in office [20 months ago], not one single construction tender has been issued in Judea and Samaria," Katz said sarcastically.

      Katz also quoted Attias as having said that under the present government, construction in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria is at the lowest it has ever been, and that housing prices have jumped 42%.

      "Freezing Israel's capital and a fifth of Israel's population," Ketzaleh said, "is a death blow to the real estate market…  Netanyahu's incomprehensible addiction to [Ehud] Barak and his partners on the radical left in perpetuating the obsessive freeze in metropolitan Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria render the actions of the Finance Minister and the Governor of the Bank of Israel as effective as cupping-glasses for the dead."