The cabinet today discussed a proposal for the establishment of the new housing cabinet, and approved its composition and authority. At the same time, the cabinet also approved the transfer of planning administration authority and other matters to Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon.
The proposal distributed to the ministers yesterday included 13 ministers in the new housing cabinet, while excluding the Minister of Environmental Protection. The proposal was later amended, however, to add the the Ministry of Environmental Protection director general to the housing cabinet, but only as an observer without voting rights. The cabinet approved this proposal today.
The cabinet resolution approved today also lists other parties to be invited regularly to housing cabinet meetings, without giving them voting rights, including the government legal advisor and the head of the National Economic Council.
The environmental organizations are still complaining about the Minister of Environmental Protection's exclusion. They are asserting that the proposal approved is inadequate, and warning that damage could result. "It was expected that the Ministry of Environmental Protection would be one of the leading ministries in the housing cabinet in order to preserve balanced development and the environmental, health, and quality of life of Israelis," the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) said. "We are all concerned about the problem of housing, but any development must be balanced, and take into account all the interests of Israelis. The absence of the Ministry of the Environment representing the interests of health and quality of life and the preservation of open spaces for the benefit of Israelis leaves the housing cabinet completely unbalanced."
Government sources continue to assert that a struggle to add the Minister of Environmental Protection to the housing cabinet is continuing behind the scenes, but he did not appear in today's government resolution. Sources present at today's cabinet meeting said that the Prime Minister also commented on the matter, saying that the housing cabinet composition was likely to change later.
In addition to the cabinet decision about the housing cabinet composition, the cabinet also approved a resolution entitled, "Adapting the Government Estate Management and Planning Structure to Cope with the Housing Crisis." Among other things, this proposal includes the transfer of Israel Land Authority (ILA) to Kahlon, transfer of the Planning Administration and District Planning offices in the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of Finance, and the establishment of a housing headquarters in the Ministry of Finance.
A national housing headquarters in the Ministry of Finance
Under this cabinet resolution, Kahlon will be responsible for ILA, and will have the authority formerly given to the Minister of the Interior under the Planning and Building Law. Among other things, this will make Kahlon ILA chairman. At the same time, the cabin resolution states that the need for legislative amendments needed for transferring this authority to the Minister of Finance will be considered.
The Minister of the Interior's authority under the Planning and Building Law will be given to the Minister of Finance, as well as his authority relating to the housing expediting committees, the Preferred Housing Sites Law, the National Parks, Nature Reserves, National Sites and Memorial Sites Law, and the Natural Gas Law. This transfer of authority significantly reduces the Minister of the Interior's power. The cabinet resolution also states that legislative changes stipulating these changes will be considered, while adding that this matter will still require the housing cabinet's approval.
The resolution states that the new national housing headquarters in the Ministry of Finance will be established within 30 days, and will "serve as a headquarters aimed at ensuring that government policy on housing is implemented." The tasks and authority of the official heading the headquarters will be brought to the housing cabinet for approval within 14 days. At the same time, the housing headquarter's work plans will also be brought to the housing cabinet for approval.
The cabinet resolution also addressed the changes in legislation needed to carry out all these actions, stating, "The Ministry of Finance shall distribute for approval by the government or the ministerial legislative committee a memorandum about a law for all the legislative amendments needed to implement this resolution, insofar as they are needed, within 14 days of a decision by the housing cabinet."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 19, 2015
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