Dayan: Govt. Discriminates Against Judea-Samaria Residents
Yesha Council Chief Danny Dayan on Thursday sent a letter to government ministers slamming them for their decision to remove Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria from a list of over 600 communities in Israel – many of them Israeli Arab towns and villages – that are eligible for housing grants and assistance. Dayan accused them of discriminating against Yesha residents solely on the basis of their place of residence.
“At the beginning of the week you approved the inclusion of some 70 Yesha communities in the list of communities to receive advantages as preferred housing communities,” Dayan wrote. But in a hastily organized telephone poll you decided that towns in Yesha would require special government approval before receiving any benefits. This decision constitutes clear discrimination against residents of Judea and Samaria, who are being denied their equal rights, compared to residents of other parts of the country.”
The Housing Ministry on Sunday added several hundred communities to the list of towns whose resident can receive special benefits when buying a home. The updated list came after criticism last year by High Court judge Dorit Beinisch that the previous list did not include any Arab towns or villages. With the updated list, residents of 91 towns and cities, along with 557 kibbutzim, moshavim, small towns and Arab villages, are now eligible for the benefits.
Eligible residents of cities and local authorities can receive up to NIS 75,000 in a development grant at low, government-subsidized interest rates for the purchase of a home, while residents of kibbutzim, moshavim, small towns and Arab villages can receive up to NIS 150,000 in subsidized loans.
Originally, some 70 towns in Yesha – including Kiryat Arba, Efrat, Ariel, Beit El, Beitar Ilit, and many others - had been included in the list, but after criticism by leftist groups, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanayahu conducted a telephone poll of ministers, seeking their permission to amend the government decision. As a result, Yesha residents will only be able to get the benefits if “political officials” signed off on the requests. The most likely candidate for that job is Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whom Yesha residents have long accused of doing everything possible to slow Jewish population growth in Yesha, with his consistent refusal to allow for construction of new homes, building permits, etc.
“This is a most serious decision, one that discriminates against Yesha residents, Dayan wrote, adding that he demanded that the government conduct a special meeting to discuss the issue.
In recent months, a number of officials and politicians have complained against the discrimination Yesha residents are subjected to. In November, MK Danny Danon (Likud) protested against delivery surcharges that Yesha residents were forced to pay for many products, and Dayan complained that the government was preventing new immigrants from considering Judea and Samaria as a potential place to live.