AG: Give Army Vets Priority for Subsidized Housing

Yehuda Weinstein said giving priority to people who have done military or national service is 'reasonable and proportional,'would not raise legal difficulties.

The attorney general is advancing a plan to give demobilized soldiers priority in purchasing subsidized housing. However, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel says the military service criterion would make it impossible for some groups to obtain affordable housing.

At a recent discussion in his office, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said giving priority to people who have done military or national service is "reasonable and proportional" and would not raise legal difficulties.

Weinstein recently proposed Housing Minister Ariel Atias give demobilized soldiers up to 20 additional points in the formula used to determine subsidized state housing eligibility.

The proposal was prepared for a debate on the criteria for affordable housing due to be held in the near future by the council of the Israel Land Administration, following the Trajtenberg Committee's recommendations.

MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) lashed out against the law, which she called discriminatory.

"Weinstein is legitimizing discrimination against Arabs and ultra-Orthodox and handicapped people," she said. "His statement that such priority is legal, reasonable and proportional constitutes discrimination and violates the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty."

ACRI attorney Gil Gan-Mor said military service should not come into play when deciding who gets subsidized housing.

"It is legitimate for the state to reward demobilized soldiers, but eligibility for limited subsidized housing, intended to help poorer people, should not be based on military service but on income and need," Gan-Mor said. "It will exclude entire communities such as Arabs, ultra-Orthodox and handicapped people from state-subsidized housing, contrary to many Supreme Court rulings on this issue."

Yisrael Beiteinu is demanding priority in subsidized housing purchases for married couples whose combined working time adds up to 125 percent of one full-time position. If accepted, this condition would exclude many ultra-Orthodox families from purchasing the subsidized apartments.

The Housing Ministry's criteria grant an additional 10 priority points to every child in a family of up to three children. The length of marriage is also a criterion for priority.

The Trajtenberg Committee recommended the state market lands for building an average of 40,000 apartments every year. At least 20 percent of these apartments would be subsidized for economic rental or purchase.

The committee recommended earmarking 5,000 apartments for long-term rental, some for less than the market price, while 5,000 other apartments would be sold for up to 50 percent less than the market price.