The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Construction, and the Israel Lands Authority signed an agreement Tuesday with the city of Beersheva for the building of some 20,000 residential units. It is the seventh such agreement signed since the initiative began during the previous government, and the second signed during the present administration.
Originally, the agreement was to include plans for 12,000 units but it was decided to expand the plans during deliberations. Despite the announcement, the agreement still needs to be approved by the Beersheva city council.
According to the roadmap in the agreement, the new units will be available by 2019 and NIS 1.5 billion will be invested in infrastructure and public buildings across the city. Furthermore, the city will receive funding for a refurbishment of its central avenue and the old city as well as the construction of a stadium.
Minister of Construction Yoav Galant joined representatives from the Israel Land Authority for the signing ceremony.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also arrived at the ceremony. He said: “My vision is simple Beersheva as a city of half a million people within 12 years. We are making headway, step by step. This is the largest such agreement in this country’s history. It’s a big day for Beersheva, a big day for the Negev, and a big day for the State of Israel.”
This was the first time the prime minister was present at the signing of such an agreement with a municipality; it is likely the appearance was a statement of intent by Netanyahu, who was criticized for not being more involved in fixing the housing crisis.
Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon said at the ceremony that most of the apartments to be sold in the city will carry attractive prices. “Building 20,000 residential units in Beersheva, that’s vision! And we are here to implement and realize it. The Beersheva agreement is historic and an important component of it is the pricing. The Israel Land Authority, working strenuously, will put out some 25,000 units this year, and a total of 60,000 units by the end of next year, in all of Israel. This is how we provide an answer to the outcry from residents of the Negev’s capital and its surroundings.”
Kahlon added, “Our responsibility is to solve the housing crisis and we are dealing with this crisis with a comprehensive policy so that our children will have a place to live. We are working to significantly increase the supply of apartments by removing barriers and signing agreements like those signed here today. We will not hesitate and we will continue to allocate the necessary resources to solving this crisis and it will be solved.”
Later in his remarks, Kahlon urged Beersheva’s mayor to fulfill his part of the deal. “The mayor knew how to conduct negotiations for his city and he got what he wanted. In return we need the permits. We released the lands, cut through the bureaucracy, and we will invest hundreds of millions of shekels. But none of this matters without the building permits, and, Mr. Mayor, that part is in your court.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 6, 2015
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