Proposal: Thousands of New Homes in Kibbutzim, Moshavim

Interior Ministry panel backs plan for up to 50,000 new housing units in rural communities around the country.

Gil Eliahu

As government officials struggle to bring down the cost of housing in the country by boosting supply, an Interior Ministry planning subcommittee has given its support to a dramatic plan that would permit construction of up to 50,000 new housing units on moshavim and kibbutzim, the two major forms of cooperative communities.

The ministry’s subcommittee on planning principle issues released its recommendation on Monday to the National Planning Council, proposing an amendment to the national master plan that would permit moshav landowners, who up to now have been authorized to build two homes on their land, to build a third. It will also allow revisions to the number of homes that the national master plan (known in Hebrew as Tama 35) provides for in rural communities including moshavim and kibbutzim.

Kibbutzim generally involve joint ownership of most or all of the community’s assets, while moshavim historically have marketed agricultural produce jointly and purchased supplies together.

The recommendation, if it gets the nod from the national council, will boost permitted housing in no fewer than 430 rural communities and is expected to pave the way for about 50,000 new homes, including about 10,000 in the center of the country, where demand for housing is generally stiffest. For example, it is expected to boost the maximum number of homes at Moshav Rishpon, north of Tel Aviv, from 350 to 450. In the same area, the number of housing units at Kibbutz Ga’ash would be allowed to rise from the current 400 to 520. A little to the east, at Kfar Hess in the Sharon region, an identical increase would be allowed while in Kfar Vitkin, north of Netanya, the current limit of 400 would jump to 590.

Details including certain limitations on moshav owners were ironed out at a meeting chaired by Finance Ministry housing chief Avigdor Yitzhaki, but the Finance Ministry explained the policy as increasing housing density on moshavim without expanding the built-up areas there and without harming open spaces. The plan, the ministry said, strikes “a balance between the need for additional housing units, making land use more efficient and increasing density” and “the desire to preserve the character of the rural community.”

Although the recommendation comes as good news for moshav residents who have been seeking to build an additional home on their land, even if approved by the National Planning Council, it only applies to moshav owners who pay 3.75% capitalization fees on the value of the land to the Israel Land Authority, which is currently a limited group. Nevertheless, the recommended shift in policy was welcomed by the secretary general of the moshav movement, Meir Tzur, who added that more needs to be done for the moshavim both with regard to government land policy and agricultural policy.