A ministry review of housing data being presented by the Interior Ministry’s Planning Administration finds the figures are distorted and intended to provide an excuse to destroy open spaces. The Planning Administration insists that a growth in Israel’s population means we need more housing. It is proposing a revision of National Outline Plan (NOP) 35, which encourages building in areas that are already development-oriented and limiting development in open spaces. The proposal, to rezone open spaces for construction, is being considered at the National Planning and Building Council’s monthly meeting today, September 9th.
The data presented by the Planning Administration are detached from reality, says the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP). For example, while the Planning Administration claims there are between 150,000-250,000 housing units that have been approved but not yet built, these figures do not include housing units that were approved before the year 2000. In fact, the actual figure is much higher, meaning there will be much more housing available once these units are built.
The Planning Administration’s figures are distorted and tendentious, and are designed to divert public attention, and to provide an excuse to harm open spaces. They will hurt the periphery, despite the fact that it is clear that hundreds of thousands of housing units can be built within cities in the immediate future.
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz has announced that he is vehemently opposed to the proposed change in NOP 35. Peretz: "Instead of determining percentages on paper, each case must be reviewed individually. We must opt for construction within cities that will save money for both residents and local authorities, and will allow Israeli citizens to enjoy the few remaining open spaces we still have."