Ministry: Harish Won't Be Haredi

The Housing Ministry has decided not to try to make Harish, a settlement in Wadi Ara along the Green Line, into a Haredi community after reaching the conclusion that it wouldn't have much chance of success.

Originally conceived as a Haredi community in the mid-1990s, when Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, now defense minister, was housing minister in Yitzhak Rabin's government, Harish was meant to be similar to the Haredi town of Immanuel - but inside the Green Line.

Much effort was devoted to marketing it as such, but without the hoped-for success.

The housing crunch in the Haredi community has long since been relieved, as Haredi neighborhoods opened in Beitar, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Kiryat Sefer and Elad.

Housing Ministry director-general Avi Maoz recently appointed a steering committee in the ministry to examine possible futures for Harish. At the same time he asked Ya'akov Efrati, director-general of the Israel Lands Administration to halt the process of freeing nearby Kibbutz Metzer farm land for commercial development, so in the future the land can be freed for use by Harish.