The 1,500 homes under construction in Safed's Mitzpe Yamim neighborhood on 500 acres overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) were meant to change the demographic balance in the northern hilltop city, which has been attracting more and more Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews in recent years. Safed's secular Mayor Ilan Shohat had bet big on the new neighborhood with ads featuring happy young secular couples with the rolling green hills in the background and declarations about a swimming pool being open on Saturdays, a sports park and bicycles paths.
But in reality, an analysis of those registering for the first 133 houses being marketed found that 60% of potential buyers are Haredi and 15% are National-Religious. Almost 600 people registered with the Israel land Authority for the lottery for the homes, which will take place in early December. Shohat is reportedly finding it difficult to come to terms with these findings but other sources in the city say that the situation is no surprise, with those registering for the lottery reflecting the demographic composition of the city.
Safed Municipality said, "From the figures recorded by the Israel Land Authority and Ministry of Housing and Construction, it is clearly impossible to know the character of those bidding and the speculations and guesses of part of the desire by power groups to set a reality. We will wait patiently for the results of the tender and in any event it is important to keep things in proportion for we are only talking about a small number of the housing units, which are part of a huge project of 1,500 homes in the first stage and 3,000 homes in the second stage."
The Municipality added, "The project is being aimed at and built for the traditional secular sector but if Haredi families choose to live there then that is their choice and full right."
Haredi council member Eliezer Lazar, who plans challenging Shohat in next year's municipal elections, said, "I regret any attempt to divide and create a dispute between the populations in the city. Safed is a city in which the different population groups respect each other, and safed will be better and more prosperous when all the different population groups live together in peace."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 27, 2017
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