Lapid: Housing Crisis Caused by Netanyahu

February 25, 2015  

Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid continued on Tuesday to blame Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the housing crisis in Israel, ahead of a new report by the State Comptroller on the issue.

The new report, which will be released on Wednesday, is expected to blame three previous governments for the housing crisis – from the Ehud Olmert government to the last government headed by Netanyahu and in which Lapid served as Finance Minister.

“I suggest that every Israeli citizen carefully read tomorrow the important and in-depth report by the State Comptroller on the housing crisis. Everything we have said over the past year is in this report, in black and white,” Lapid wrote on Facebook.

“Now it is no longer a claim by one party against another party, this is an official report of the State Comptroller which gives backing to all our arguments – Israel’s housing crisis is a direct result of the neglect of Netanyahu and the Likud,” he charged.

“Years of procrastination, inaction, barriers and corruption, caused the housing prices to rise in a scandalous manner. Until we set up a housing cabinet – in mid-2013 – Netanyahu never even made an effort to increase supply and lower prices. Until we carried out a national plan to lower housing prices, no one even tried. They just have not done anything,” said Lapid.

“We were the first ones to put together a real, comprehensive, national plan to solve the housing crisis. A plan which increases the supply, removes barriers, introduces new variables such as umbrella agreements, long-term rental housing and assistance of hundreds of thousands of shekels to young couples,” he added.

Netanyahu and Lapid have been blaming each other for the high cost of housing in Israel. On Sunday, Lapid said that Netanyahu, who was Prime Minister in six of the past nine years, bore the main responsibility for what happened to the real estate market; he, on the other hand, was Finance Minister for barely a year and a half.

Lapid said that had his zero-VAT housing plan gone into effect, prices on homes would have been cut by 18% – but the Prime Minister stymied that, too.

Netanyahu responded by saying that Lapid was head of the Housing Cabinet and was placed in charge of it specifically to develop ways to lower costs, adding that Lapid was opposed to numerous ideas, such as the “Target Price” plan, which sought to keep construction costs low, preferring his own Zero-VAT plan – which nearly all economists slammed.

On Monday, Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett backed Netanyahu and blamed Lapid for the housing crisis, saying, “In the last two years the State of Israel has been held hostage to the whims of Finance Minister Yair Lapid, like the 0% VAT law which froze the housing market, just as Housing Minister Uri Ariel was trying to build new homes all over the country.”

Meanwhile, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon has also been blaming Lapid for the housing problem, saying this week that the former Finance Minister had “provided zero solutions, only headlines in the newspaper.”

Kahlon had previously stated that all three – Netanyahu, Lapid and Bennett – were to blame for the high cost of housing in Israel.

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