Tel Aviv Turns Blind Eye to Illegal Building, Says Panel

"The Tel Aviv Municipality is not enforcing the Contractors Registration Law in its jurisdiction and is, in fact, allowing contractors to build without their having legal authorization to do so," Dadi Rizel, the director-general of the Association of Contractors and Builders in Tel Aviv-Jaffa recently told the Zeiler Commission, which was set up following the Versailles wedding hall disaster in May last year.

Rizel said his association made a point of providing the municipality with accurate information regarding unlicensed construction activities in the city. He added, however, that Tel Aviv city hall was refusing to deal with the matter, claiming manpower and financial problems.

The association, he said, had offered to finance the hiring of an inspector to handle the matter, but that the proposal had been rejected. This rejection, Rizel argued, led one to assume that the city was not making an effort to enforce the law as it did not constitute a source of income for the municipality.

"The recession in the construction industry is forcing entrepreneurs and contractors to find creative solutions for cutting back on costs," Rizel said. "And some of these solutions are expressed in the employment of unregistered workers and sub-contractors."

Tel Aviv City Engineer Danny Kaisar said in response that Rizel's efforts to prevent the hiring of unregistered contractors was commendable, but noted that the Contractors Registration Law only empowered the Registrar of Contractors to enforce the law. Kaisar added that the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry was responsible for granting permits to contractors and for overseeing activities in the field.