Knesset Member Says Agency Exaggerates Number of Housing Units Approved for Construction

But the Israel Lands Administration insists that it is at work to remove obstacles to building starts.

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The Israel Lands Administration has been providing misleading data on land approved for residential construction, says the chairman of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, Avishay Braverman (Labor).

Last year, ILA data included the sale of land for 39,000 homes, but only 15,000 units had been approved for construction, Braverman said. The year before, the numbers were 36,000 and 25,000 respectively. Braverman was speaking Wednesday at a committee session on the ILA and the agency's impact on housing prices.

ILA director Bentzi Lieberman acknowledged that his agency's data did not reflect the number of housing units actually under construction. He noted locations including Kiryat Gat in the south, Rosh Ha'ayin in the center and Kiryat Bialik in the Haifa area where construction had not made progress. But he said the ILA was at work on a blanket agreement for those areas that would remove obstacles to building starts on thousands of units.

"Over the past four years, the state's sales volume has been almost twice what was usual, but the major problem has been holdups [to construction]," Lieberman said. "Building permits are dependent on city plans requiring transportation [planning] and sewage treatment facilities. The ILA has no control over any of these things."

In any case, Lieberman pledged that this year and next, obstacles to construction at additional locations would be removed, paving the way for about 30,000 housing units.

Amir Reshef of the Finance Ministry said he expects a new ministerial committee on housing costs to lift obstacles to construction. He said construction on thousands of units in Beit Shemesh and Rosh Ha'ayin would begin in the coming months.

Housing construction in Israel is not keeping pace with demand, and ministers worry that the VAT exemption for first-time buyers will be counterproductive to lowering prices..Credit: AP

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