Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced last week that the plan for the establishment of a Charedi neighborhood in Kiryat Gat has been canceled and the neighborhood will be designated for the general public.
The plan, promoted during the previous government by then Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, designated the construction of 13,000 living units for the Chareidi public in the western area of Kiryat Gat. It was presented as one of the main solutions for the severe housing crisis in the Chareidi sector.
The plan is now being shelved by the government, which is instead promoting the city of Kasif in the Negev for the Chareidi sector instead despite the fact that the Chareidi MKs have repeatedly made it clear that the Chareidi public is not interested in housing in the Negev.
Shas MK Yinon Azulai confronted Shaked on the issue in a discussion held in the Knesset’s Finance Committee the day after the announcement: “Last night you stated that you and the Housing Minister made a joint decision to discriminate against the Charedi public regarding housing as well and you won’t be advancing Deri’s plan for the establishment of 13,000 living units in western Kiryat Gat for the Chareidi sector and instead will transfer Kasif in the Negev to the Chareidim – despite the fact that we made it clear countless times that we are not interested in Kasif as a solution to the housing crisis.”
“I would like to know if this process is part of your plan to limit the power of the Chareidi public?” Azulai asked.
When Shaked failed to respond, Azulai asked a second question: “I want to know if you’ll apologize or retract the words of the prime minister against the Chareidi public.” Shaked failed to respond to this question as well.
UTJ MK Moshe Gafni, who was also present at the discussion, chimed in: “We didn’t want Kasif and we told you this. We’re Charedim but don’t try to fool us.”
Deri responded to the announcement by stating: “This is a terrible decision that is intended to negatively affect the sensitive issue of the severe housing crisis in the Chareidi sector. As the Interior Minister, I invested hundreds of hours of work together with the professional echelon in the Interior and Housing Ministries in order to approve the plan for the Chareidi sector in Kiryat Gat. All the professional bodies in all the committees approved the plans with the understanding that it is a professional solution for the Chareidi public.”
“The intention of the Interior and Housing Ministers to cancel the professional decision in one fell swoop will intensify the housing crisis in the Chareidi sector. It is a direct continuation of the policy and efforts of the Bennett government to discriminate and limit the influence of the Charedi sector.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)