Not a lot has been written here about a suddenly newsworthy crisis in Central Israel which involves the want of availabiity of affordable housing. Wonder why?
This article discussing the issue appeared in Saturday evening's Ha'aretz.
The most relevant part of the article is this
An examination of the data during the period between 1994 and 2009 throws light on some of the reasons that have led to the current crisis in housing prices. Almost half - 48.4 percent! - of construction work in the settlements over these years was the result of government initiatives. The average government construction for the entire country (including construction on the settlements that pulled the national average up ) was only one fifth - 20.7 percent - of all building work in those years.
A detailed comparison of the figures for public settlement building with the peripheral regions likewise shows that neither in the south nor the north were the percentages of construction close to the rates that were registered in the settlements.
To put it simply, in order to make a clear political statement six governments preferred to encourage Israelis to go and live on settlements rather than in the periphery of the country. This fact had a critical effect on the level of supply in various regions, and therefore on the prices of real estate in these regions
This is not news to some of the activists here, but it has now been added to the conversation on both part of the housing crisis in Israel, and the rise of settlements.
This article from tonight's JP adds another layer to the problem.
Hanan Youseef of the Arab Israeli NGO “The Galilee Society,” also said that the real estate problem is much more serious in the Arab sector, and includes problems not faced by Jews.
“The problem is more serious than that in the Jewish sector; it’s not the high prices of the apartments, the problem is the serious lack of available housing which is so severe that in another 10 years half of the public won’t have a place of their own to live.”
Youseef cited a report compiled in 2010 by the organization that found that 55.2% of the Arab public cannot meet their housing needs, and that over the next decade, 46.8% of Arab families will not be able to build any housing that could help meet their needs. The same study found that only 22.6% of Arab families have access to public parks in their communities.
The discussion indicated as to Israeli building that nearly half of the available housing funds in the last decade used for settlement activity were Israeli governmental funds, more than used either in the north or the south of Israel proper, in areas of Israel more uncontroversially available for building, presumably in part to change 'facts on the ground', and that want of government funding for building of housing in Israel, less than twenty percent of building done in that time period. (think of Israel as an old fashioned telephone received with a narrow neck between two bulges on the ends, and central Israel for these purposes is that narrow neck.
Both halves of this problem are now creating great difficulty for the issues we follow here.
Update: This diary made the recc list. Thank you all.
This problem has several elements.
First, in the general Israeli community, nearly half of all funds for building settler housing in WB came from the government, in what Ha'aretz suggests was a deliberate attempt to defeat the provisions of the Oslo agreement, that agreement which is so often invoked as being violated by PA. This was done at a time when that was much more than housing funds allotted to less populated parts of Israel. See map here. One can expect this present housing shortage to be added to that conversation, that Israel cannot give up large tracts in WB or the roads which connect them to current Israel, because there is no housing available for those people in fact available in Israel at prices ordinary families can afford.
This left what is now clearly an insufficient sum to provide housing for Israeli citizens in the area of Israel west of the Green Line generally. With the result that the demonstrations over this are larger than the demonstrations over the peace negotiations and issues related to that. This also means that Israel has a huge amount of money in those settlements which investment it will probably not be willing to abandon, given the size and the effect that its choices as to real estate investment has had on its own conceded civilian population in indisputably Israeli central areas.
It also means that building for Jewish Israeli citizens has been deliberately concentrated in the narrow central band, rather than dispersed down as far as Beer Sheva or near Gaza or in the North where land is cheaper, in a country smaller than most US states by a lot. This is coupled with recent complaints about transportation problems which apparently make living in the areas in the North and South of Israel unusually inconvenient, owing to a failure to create a comprehensive plan to provide transportation to the further areas, the better to disperse population.
Given aliyah and ordinary demographic growth, this problem is going to become more severe as time goes on, such as the seven thousand in an Indian Community that Liebermann has put pressure on the government to recognize, and the recent recognition of communities in the Western Mediterranean, all of whom will be entitled to and need housing if and when they come, given the commitment to support that aliyah is given.The pressure will be to increase the width of the central area at the expense of PA, because that land is closer to the more densely settled areas of Israel, rather than in the less heavily populated North and South. Saying aliyah is part of the central concept of Israel does not by itself provide the additional housing and other supports required to make aliyah real for a number of people which is not controlled by Israel but by those who come as of right, when Israel cannot provide or has chosen not to provide save by settlements for those already in Israel.
Second. there is also insufficient Arab housing in Arab areas, such that according to the article half of the Arab Israelis there will within ten years not have the needed housing at all. Without reference to right of return of refugees in any numbers whatever. The half without housing will be Israeli citizens, and are now.
The explanation given is that unlike in Central Israel, many Israeli Arabs have managed to hold private title to property, the obverse of many parts of Israel where the government owns the land underlying the housing, which is a struggle to keep, but means there is less public land for public housing to be built on there. Of course, the article also notes that when Arab families try to increase the amount of housing on their properties, their permits are delayed or denied at a high rate, and any resulting attempts to remodel are subject to destruction of buildings and possible land forfeiture. At least, that is the current explanation in the newspapers.
The situation in Arab areas has apparently been known for a long time, but nothing has been done about it so that the number of Arab Israeli citizen families are in a hurting way for housing in a way which is not going to get better under current Israeli rules, save that from the current government's point of view, opportunities for destruction of housing and forfeiture of land may appear, reference being made to the two diaries on that subject a couple of days ago.
I also note the articles and diaries which appeared here not long ago here about the forcible re-relocation of Bedouins in the south of Israel to urban areas where they were to obtain grants to land half the size of what was being surrendered, and in their place new Jewish settlements and installations were planned and announced.
There was also a recent diary about the State Department's position on this, which I read yesterday here, which suggested that one of the reasons the Quartet could not come up with a proposal is that the public Obama plan has since been modified by the State Department so that the notion of mutually agreed swaps is allegedly being modified to allow Israel to take advantage unilaterally of the changes on the ground in the form of settlements which they have made in the last ten years as something they would get to keep, as exceptions to the '67 borders before swaps are discussed, which will presumably also mean additional takings for roads to connect these newly exempt from swapping settlements to Israel proper, whether or not and no matter how much those roads and settlements create landlocked blocks only to which a negotiation may apply. And these notions don't even include additional demands Israel may make and the State Department may back for unilateral 'security,' nor for the housing problems created in Gaza by the blockade.
This snarl of housing problems presented in Israel as a problem that must be solved by any negotiation also simply increases the problem of what in any discussion is supposed to happen to all those Palestinians who are adversely affected by this, including the Israeli Arab citizens, whose want of equal treatment by the recent Israeli administrations is so clear in so many areas that it has its own set of articles, not included here. To be blunt, where are they supposed to go since housing five milliion Palestinians makes the same human demands as housing five million Israeli non Palestinians (approximately 73 percent of the seven million citizens and residents of Israel, and each settlement, security deal, reduces the 22 percent allotted to Palestinians There is only so much room and the number of people a plan must provide sufficient living space and resources for, and this governmental planning has only made the sardine can in which all of these folk, and the refugees temporarily located in other countries, worse.
This one of those issues where I also wonder if this is happening because of Mrs. Clinton's personal policies on Israel, which to me were summarized in her famous April 2008 election run quote "Obliterate Iran", not exactly a diplomatic comment but also a frame of reference.
The newly political fact of insufficient housing in central Israel by reason of failure of investment ther also means that if settlements are closed in WB, there is no place in Israel to put the people so relocated, intentionally by government policy in Israel, since they are now by thier own acts in position that they can't now house the ones they already have.
Author's note. This is being written on Saturday night around midnight, PDT, and for some reason Ma'an and the various articles about this and other subjects are off line, even to the point that I cannot call up articles I have saved. Google says it cannot find Ma'an tonight at all.