Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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4 Sivan 5760 - June 7, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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High Court Halts Elad Benefits

by Betzalel Kahn

Another disturbing decision of the High Court justices was issued last week when three judges headed by Aharon Barak forbade the Housing and Construction Ministry to grant buyers of apartments in Elad any benefits that are not offered to other buyers in the center of the country. The reason for this is that the Housing Ministry has designated Elad as a city with a religious character.

The High Court justices accepted the claim of the Am Chofshi organization that the Housing and Construction Ministry gave purchasers of apartments in Elad preferential treatment. According to the decision of the High Court, those who have already bought apartments and have received benefits will not be adversely affected.

When construction began in Elad, the Government decided to grant purchasers of apartments in Elad loans of NIS 60 thousand, of which NIS 30 thousand was a loan and NIS 30 thousand was a grant. In addition, the Government decided to pay 25 percent of the development costs. 7000 dwelling units were planned for Elad, and the contractors pledged to sell the apartments only to religious buyers.

Due to the appeal of MK Yossi Paritzki of Am Chofshi, the three justices, Aharon Barak, Tova Strassberg-Cohen and Dorit Beinish determined that the future occupants of Elad had been given preferential treatment in two aspects. The first is the fact that the loan given to the future occupants of Elad is higher than that given in other areas of the central region of the country. In addition, the magnitude of the construction under preferential conditions is disproportionate in comparison with the general population.

The High Court determined that granting the future occupants of Elad special benefits violated the principle that aid for purchase of apartments is to be determined by criteria based upon objective personal factors. The High Court justices said that they had decided to restrict the benefits to Elad buyers rather than to order them granted to other buyers because they could not determine the full consequences of imposing additional benefits.

Grants for the future occupants of Elad ended a number of weeks ago, and the decision of the Court was not applied retroactively. Thus, for the moment, the decision has no immediate practical consequences. However, the UTJ MKs have asked that they be given an extension period. Alternate ways of continuing to benefit the purchasers of apartments in Elad are currently being investigated.

In any event, chareidi observers of the High Court immediately responded that the decision seems to be fully consistent with the anti- religious approach that the Court has followed for several years.

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