Neot Hapisgah construction company filed a request to the Tel Aviv District Court to freeze proceedings after receiving temporary orders from the local army commander regarding land possession and a construction ban in Modi'in Illit. The IDF is not allowing the company to carry out signed deals and to complete the construction of a series of projects. The company claims that as a result it could not pay bond coupons due Wednesday and that due to the orders the company's coffers are essentially empty, even though it should be millions of shekels in the black.
In a request filed through Atty. Ehud Arad the company details its cumulative assets totaling NIS 180 million ($47 m.) compared to debts of NIS 117 million ($31 m.). This sum includes an NIS 72-million ($19 m.) debt to bond holders. In total the company has NIS 60 million ($16 m.) in its coffers, but it cannot realize its profit potential due to the construction ban placed on its properties.
Atty. Arad told Yated Ne'eman that as a result of a High Court ruling, the army has to reroute the section of the security barrier outside Bil'in (which is very close to Modi'in Illit) and is setting aside "hysterical" security zones on large swaths of Modi'in Illit and prohibiting building because of uncertainties over where the barrier will run. Neot Hapisgah is requesting that proceedings be frozen to enable the company to legally challenge the IDF order.
"We came to the conclusion that only by seriously shaking up the system would we be able to continue building on the lands under our ownership," Rabbi Pinchas Zaltzman, one of the owners of the company, told Yated Ne'eman. "Because of a policy that has nothing to do with us we cannot be expected to suffer delays and be unable to carry out deals we've signed.
"The Kiryat Sefer deal, which is worth NIS 47.5 million [$12.5 m.] for the construction of 600 units, is stuck because the army is not allowing construction on three lots. The army also halted the construction of 54 units in the middle of construction on Rechov Netivot Shalom. All of the buyers have bank guarantees so they have no reason to worry about their money, but I'm stuck and am paying expenses to contractors.
"Another deal for the construction of 100 housing units, the Itamar Zinger deal, is stuck because of the army. I am confident that be'ezras Hashem following the request we filed we'll be able to move forward with building and complete the deals. Today, a few hours after filing the request, we received a document from the army that will allow the Kiryat Sefer deal to move forward. I'm certain the temporary ban will be revoked very soon."
Modi'in Illit Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Guterman contacted Central Command and the officer in charge of the separation barrier route to accelerate the unfreezing of the lots and to revoke the construction ban as promised by the Central Command. In response, this week the city engineer received a letter from architect Natalia Averbuch, the Civil Administration's senior construction coordinator for the Jewish sector, informing him that after assessing security issues a decision was reached that overstepping the construction ban would not pose a security threat.
Recalling that siyata deShmaya enabled the removal of the ban on some of these lots, Rabbi Guterman said the municipality would not rest until all of the lots in the neighborhood are cleared for construction in accordance with the Central Command's stance.