Members of the Knesset`s Special Committee to Discuss the National Authority for Urban Renewal Bill held a meeting in Or Akiva on Wednesday and visited a ”Piuni Binui (vacate and build)” project in the city`s Shazar neighborhood.

Or Akiva Mayor Jacob Edery, a former minister and MK, took part in the meeting, as did MK David Bitan (Likud); Major General (res.) Yusef Mishleb, who is in charge of the district on behalf of the Ministry of Interior; Arnon Giladi, special advisor to the committee chairman; the project`s initiators, government representatives and others.

The mayor and the municipal engineer pointed out the advantages of the project, in the framework of which some 1,750 housing units are set to be built. However, the two also mentioned the possible difficulties the project may present with regards to the city`s infrastructure.

Elias Asayag, who is in charge of relations with Shazar neighborhood residents who are expected to be a part of the project, said the construction company was already preparing the residents for the change and that it has been attentive to the residents` needs since the early phases of the project.

Committee chairman MK Eli Cohen (Kulanu) said that the urban renewal initiative ”is not progressing as expected, despite its potential.” The project in Or Akiva, he said, ”offers a solution to two issues that top our list of priorities – dealing with both social and housing problems, and rehabilitating neglected neighborhoods.”

”In Israel there is a geographic periphery – this is obvious – but there is also a social periphery, and it is present in every city; for this population, urban renewal solutions are truly good news. The current budget includes billions that are earmarked for expediting the processes and removing obstacles so that [urban renewal] can be brought to the people who are so eager to receive it,” MK Cohen added.

”Or Akiva, as a city, has huge potential for urban renewal. The rehabilitation of neighborhoods in the city will bring about new housing solutions for new residents and improve the quality of life of the existing residents,” he argued.