Supreme Court denies Beit Shemesh appeal

Six tenders for land zoned for 2,105 apartments in the town will be opened.

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the Beit Shemesh Municipality against the Israel Land Administration (ILA) and Ministry of Housing and Construction, after the ministry in December 2009 ordered that tender envelopes for construction in the town not be opened. The ministry was responding to the petitioners - nine Beit Shemesh city councilmen - who claimed that Minister of Housing and Construction Ariel Atias was slating the new construction only for haredim (ultra-orthodox).

In the wake of the dismissal of the petition, the ILA will this week open the six tenders for land zoned for 2,105 apartments in the town, almost five months after the tenders were published, and the tenders' winners will be announced.

On September 10, the ILA published the tenders, and on November 23, the Beit Shemesh city councilmen filed their first petition against them. The petitioners said that the tenders contravenes a city council decision from July 2009 to share the lots between haredim, other religious and secular people.

The Jerusalem District Court dismissed the petition, ruling that the marketing of land to the general population complied with the basic right of equality in tenders law and the banning of discrimination. In December 2009, the petitioned appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

The tenders were frozen during the legal process. On January 5, Supreme Court Judge Yitzhak Amit suspended an interim injunction to open the tender envelopes, which had been submitted in late November in the tenders' box, until the court ruled on the appeal. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that accepting the petitioners' request meant delaying the construction and marketing of a large number of apartments, and canceled the freezing of the tenders.

Minister of Housing and Construction Ariel Atias said, "I am pleased that the unnecessary two-month delay in selecting the winners in the tenders is over. The courts, in two separate proceedings confirm that the tenders' process was conducted equitably. These tenders are part of the plan to increase the supply of housing for the general population in order to lower the price of homes. This policy will continue."

In response, Beit Shemesh city councilman Motti Cohen told "Globes", "Market forces will determine the future of Beit Shemesh, since not every contractor is prepared to sell apartments cheaply to haredim." He added that haredim usually do not want to live in mixed neighborhoods. "We lost in court, but we haven’t lost the struggle. Beit Shemesh residents are absolutely not going to give up on their town," he said.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on February 1, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

Twitter Facebook Linkedin RSS Newsletters גלובס Israel Business Conference 2018