Haredim threaten gov't over housing support

United Torah Judaism is demanding mortgage rebates of up to NIS 800 per month.

Even as the coalition crisis over stipends for yeshiva students remains unresolved, a new crisis is brewing over United Torah Judaism's threat not to support the budget unless housing benefits which primarily aid haredi (ultra-orthodox) families are included. The party is demanding mortgage refunds of up to NIS 800 per month for homebuyers in the periphery.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended yesterday's Knesset plenum session. During the session, MK Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism) warned that unless the party's demands were met, "You'll have a problem with the coalition house."

Minister of Housing and Construction Ariel Atias (Shas) initiated a program in which the government pays NIS 800 toward monthly mortgage payments for homebuyers in the periphery who take out NIS 140,000 20-year mortgages. The proposal is backed by two bills submitted by haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism.

Earlier this week, Atias told the Knesset Finance Committee that he was promoting both bills. "The housing shortage crosses sectarian lines. The Ministry of Housing supports several bills on this issue, but Shas has only two ministers on the ministerial committee for legislation, compared with eleven for the Likud. I hope that the Likud government will be smart enough to approve them."

The Ministry of Housing is simultaneously promoting the construction of 20,000-30,000 housing units in haredi towns and neighborhoods in the periphery. Projects include 8,000 apartments for haredim in Har Yona in Upper Nazareth, over 10,000 apartments in Beit Shemesh, new haredi towns of Harish in the Wadi Ari area and at Kasif in the Negev, and 3,000 apartments in Netivot. The prices of these apartments will be less than NIS 500,000, so that the government will finance between a quarter and a third of the cost.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 2, 2010

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

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