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Photo: Noam Moskowitz
Knesset okays housing committees' bill
Controversial bill sails through final legislative readings after Opposition drops reservations. Minister Atias promises new affordable housing initiative within months

The Knesset on Wednesday voted in favor of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's national housing committees' (NHCs) bill.

 

The vote was carried 57 to 45. The Knesset plenum was able to expedite the vote once the Opposition dropped its reservations.

 

 

Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias addressed the plenum prior to the vote and announced that he intends to present the House with an affordable housing initiative in a few months' time.

 

The bill's draft was already being reviewed by the Justice Ministry to ensure it properly defines public-housing eligibility, he told the MKs.


Housing protest leaders in Knesset gallery (Photo: Noam Moskowitz)

 

Prior to the vote, Dozens of affordable housing protest activists – who voiced fierce objection to the bill, rallied outside the Knesset and threatened to block all of the entrances to the Knesset building in an attempt to stop the vote. The rally was eventually dispersed and four were detained by Jerusalem Police officers.

 

Leaders of the housing protest, who were sitting in the plenum's gallery during the vote, including Stave Shafir, were removed from the premises after standing up and making the 'X' hand gestures – which has become the protest's symbol – to express their disapproval.

 

Shafir later told Ynet: "We were at the plenum, sitting in the gallery and listening to the vote. We saw how all our requests were being ignored. We got up and made an 'X' sign with out hands, like we do in the tents when we disagree with something. As soon as we got up, a few cops jumped on us and removed us from the hall.

 

"After pleading with them, they explained that we violated the law. We didn’t understand what law we violated. We knew that clapping our hands is forbidden, but as it turns out it's not allowed to make any gestures of protest," she said.

 

According to Shafir, "It doesn’t matter because we couldn’t do anything anyway. The law passed, and the Knesset continues to ignore our request. Before the vote we approached every MK we saw on the way to the plenum, and asked them to delay the vote, but they ignored us."

 

Housing protest activists renewed their demonstration outside the knesset following the plenum's favorable vote on the NHCs bill. Tomer, an activist with the Dror Israel Movement, told Ynet that "this was a slap in the face. This law just empowers tycoons and burdens the public."

  

The affordable housing movement has vowed to escalate its protest measures should the bill mature into a law. Its leaders have already issued a public call for another mass rally this coming weakened.

 

 

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