A marathon of hearings on the proposed planning and building reform law is scheduled to begin on Monday in the special Knesset committee that is preparing the legislation for its final two readings.
The "landmark reform," initiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with an eye to cutting home prices, is expected to generate at least a week of debate on the thousands of objections filed by the opposition.
Netanyahu has already backed down from his original intention to bring the bill to the plenum for its second and third readings before the Knesset's Passover recess. In agreement with the opposition, the bill won't come to the plenum until the Knesset's summer session begins in May, on condition that the debate in the joint Interior Committee and Economics Committee panel be completed within a week. The Hadash faction has filed around 1,000 objections to the bill, while Meretz has filed another 500.
"The new planning and building law is not a reform, but an enormous revolution that is anti-democratic, anti-social and anti-environmental," said MK Dov Khenin (Hadash ), who is leading the opposition efforts. "Basic democratic rights, like the right of appeal, are being taken away from the public."
MK Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz added, "This is a law that serves the interests of the wealthy; it stifles the public and does damage to society and the environment, and opens the door to... corruption."
The bill is meant to expedite the approvals needed for construction projects so as to speed up housing construction and ultimately reduce home prices. Opponents believe the legislation leaves too much in the hands of politicians and reduces the impact of professionals, who often put brakes on politicians' zeal to appease developers.
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