Israeli Gov't Reaches Compromise on Bill Providing Energy to Unrecognized Arab Homes

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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Bedouin town Laqiya in southern Israel
Bedouin town Laqiya in southern IsraelCredit: Ofer Vaknin
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

A bill that would connect the electricity grid to homes built without permits was approved Sunday after a compromise between the United Arab List and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who had delayed the bill.

According to the decision by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, the bill will be passed based on a framework proposed by Shaked, which limits the electricity hookups to buildings built before July 2018, and also includes restrictions based on orders issued against the buildings.

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The bill is intended to ensure that electrical hookups are done legally and safely, in line with the standards set by the Israel Electric Corporation. “The proposed legislation will provide a solution for tens of thousands of homes, built without permits and with no connection to existing infrastructure that enables a proper standard of living – appropriate to Israel in 2021,” states the explanatory notes to the bill.

Interior Minister Ayelet ShakedCredit: Moti Milrod

The legislation on electrical hookups is regarded by UAL as one of the most important for its voter base, most of whom live in the Negev, with many not connected to the electricity grid – and it has sought to speed up its passage.

The explanatory note attached to the bill continues: “Many towns in Israel – most of them Arab – have suffered for years from an absence of planning, creating a situation where their residents are unable to get building permits and, as a result, cannot be connected to electricity, water and telephone networks. In the majority of cases, residents are eventually connected illegally.”

Last week, Haaretz reported that Shaked delayed the legislation, in spite of an agreement reached between the government coalition and the United Arab List.

In response, Knesset Interior Committee chairman MK Walid Taha (United Arab List) decided to suspend deliberations on the Economic Arrangements Law, a necessary component of the state budget.

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