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Tag: Housing Crisis

Crises and Solutions

photo by Scott Krane

As the Knesset has decided to build homes in East Jerusalem and settlements in Judea and Samaria such as the town of Ariel, a wave of adverse sentiments stress that this solution is counter-intuitive.

Sever Plocker of Ynet wrote that “east Jerusalem, West Bank settlements and the Golan Heights in Israel’s statistic figures reduces the per capita income and increases inequality.” He gets his facts from a recent study done by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Have a look at data done by the study:
Israel’s population within the Green Line included 6.7 million residents in 2009. An additional 440,000 residents lived in east Jerusalem, 290,000 in West Bank settlements, and 41,000 in the Golan Heights. From 1997 to 2009, the east Jerusalem population grew by 40% and the settlement population rose by almost 100% – at a pace of 8% a year. The Israeli population within the Green Line grew at a pace of only 2.2% a year during that period.

The economic inequality in the territories, which include the settlements and east Jerusalem, is 10% higher compared to the inequality in income within the Green Line – and in both cases it is one of the highest among OECD members.

The poverty rate in Israel, both within the Green Line and in the territories, is the second highest among developed countries – after Mexico.

The inclusion of the settlements and east Jerusalem adds about 4% to Israel’s gross domestic product, but reduces the GDP per capita by a significant rate of 6.5% a year. “Without east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the settlement, the GDP per capita within the Green Line would have been 6.5% higher. The post-1967 territories pushed Israel’s GDP per capita down,” the OECD rules.

In the budget year of 2007, the Israeli government spent some NIS 12.5 billion (NIS 14.5 billion in 2011 prices) on the West Bank settlements, Golan Heights and the annexed part of east Jerusalem – a 10% addition to the State Budget. In addition, NIS 5.5 billion were invested that year in the settlements and east Jerusalem, NIS 2.4 billion of them on housing construction.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Knesset Finance Committee in response to the month long protests for social justice said the issues will “not be solved in days, but in weeks”.

Bibi said told reporters,

“They lived beyond their means using financial leverage and loans. That bubble has now popped… In addition to global issues Israel has specific problems. The first is housing, because Israelis pay three times the Americans do for housing and that’s not fair. The second one is deformity in taxes, and the third is that we have cartels and monopolies and we will take care of this. The last problem is the distribution of the burden…Certainly not in days, but we will do it in weeks…”

One Way to Solve the Housing Crisis

In a story broken by NYGrime’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Ethan Bronner, the US State Department said it would withdraw $100m of funds to the Gaza Strip, if Hamas insists on the audit of American-financed charitable operations in the region.

Such funds go to health care, agriculture and water infrastructure. Hamas officials suspended International Medical Corps operating in Gaza upon their refusal to submit to Hamas inspections in their offices.

Now, despite the Fatah/Hamas merger meant to strengthen the Palestinian Authority, after slight guerilla warfare and a war of attrition between the factions called the Wakseh, the United States still forbids any kind of direct contact between American-backed groups and Hamas, which is considered by the State Department as terrorist organization.

Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nounou told the NYGrimes:

“These organizations do not recognize and do not want to recognize the Palestinian law. We do not kneel down to any threat. Any organization that wants to operate in the Palestinian territories must respect the laws.”

Hamas has been tightening the noose on NGOs in Gaza, demanding that they register with the central government, pay a fee and submit financial reports.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking, despite adversity coming from Israel, the US and other heavyweights, a state without Jewish settlements.
To prove how far away the issue is from any feasible solution, on Thursday Israel’s Interior Ministry gave approval to build a 1,600-apartment complex in East Jerusalem in Ramat Shlomo and will soon be approving an additional 2,700 housing units there. Last week, Israel planned 936 new homes in Har Homa also in East Jerusalem, Jerusalem being the proposed capitol of a Palestinian State. Housing in East Jerusalem makes up more than 35% of projects in the city.
Interior Minister and Shas leader Eli Yishai suggested that expanding Ramat Shlomo was meant to alleviate a housing shortage which partly ignited a wave of protests throughout the country demanding social and economic reforms.

42 lawmakers, more than a third of Israel’s parliament, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to solve the housing crisis by building tens of thousands of new units. This includes Judea and Samaria.

Peace Now, the Israeli NGO who advocates the dismantling of the settlements said there is no connection between expanding Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator said the building was “further proof that this government is committed to investing in occupation rather than peace…Recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and supporting our admission to the UN is the appropriate response to Israel’s rejectionist and expansionist agenda…”

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