Gov't Land Authority Offers Incentives to Hasten Construction for Evacuees

AG demands that Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revoke and modify his approval of certain clauses.

In an effort to facilitate the preparation of temporary housing for settlers evacuated under the disengagement plan, the Israel Lands Council (ILC) this week issued a series of incentives to contractors and entrepreneurs, including an exemption from a public tender.

However, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who objects to parts of the decision, has demanded that Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revoke and modify his approval of certain clauses.

The decision of the ILC, which oversees the Israel Lands Administration, applies the same terms given to top national priority areas to 11 communities in which land will be allocated to accommodate the thousands of evacuated settlers immediately after the pullout from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.

The ILC, headed by Minister Ehud Olmert, ignored Mazuz's objections and decided to offer entrepreneurs incentives for the speedy construction of temporary structures for housing, farming and employment.

The contractors will be permitted to place temporary structures in Or-Haner, Erez, Brur-Hayil, Dorot, Zikim, Carmia, Mefalsim, Nir-Am, Sa'ad, Alumim and Talmei-Yafe and rent them to the settlers for at least two years.

At the end of two years, the contractors may rent the houses on the free market for a low 31-percent capitalization rate, an incentive currently available only in national priority zone A. The entrepreneurs will be exempt from usage fees on the land for the first two years, thus reducing their costs.

Mazuz objects, among other things, to reducing the capitalization rate in areas that are not top priority. This is "extremely problematic and cannot be justified legally," he wrote to Netanyahu. He also found fault with exempting the contractors from obtaining a building permit for the structures.

Netanyahu's spokesman said the minister received Mazuz's letter only after signing the decision and was not aware of Mazuz's reservations. "The minister will examine the attorney general's comments," the spokesman said.