Gov’t Cancels Plan for Chareidi Housing in West Kiryat Gat

YERUSHALAYIM -
An aerial view of Kiryat Gat. (Amos Meron)

One of the main achievements of the chareidim in the previous Knesset on behalf of the chareidi public has seemingly been lost, by the Bennett government.

Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked made a joint decision to exclude the chareidi public and decided not to promote the plan of former ministers Rabbi Yaakov Litzman and Rabbi Aryeh Deri to allot a new neighborhood in Kiryat Gat for the chareidi public, but rather for the general public.

Instead, they have decided to promote Kasif, in the Negev, for the chareidi public – although the chareidi representatives have made it clear countless times that they are not interested in Kasif as a solution to their housing crisis.

It seems that the current government assigns the chareidi public the role of “cannon fodder” in the Negev, in order to try to prevent the spread of Bedouin settlement in the Negev by building Kasif near the Bedouin city Kuseife.

Kasif is planned to be built on an area of ​​4,750 dunams near Tel Arad in the Negev and is intended to house about 10,000 housing units, or about 50,000 residents. Tens of millions of shekalim have been invested since its establishment, and former Housing Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, together with his colleague, Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri, shelved the plan for settling chareidim there, in favor of West Kiryat Gat, which is located close to the center of the country.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, MK Rabbi Yinon Azoulai (Shas) addressed a question to Shaked in the Finance Committee that discussed the Budget Law: “Yesterday it was announced that you and the housing minister made a joint decision to exclude the chareidi public from the plans to build 13,000 housing units in Kiryat Gat, and instead transfer Kasif in the Negev for the chareidi public – although we have made it clear many times that we are not interested in Kasif as a solution to the housing crisis.

“I want to know, Minister, is this move part of your plan to reduce the power of the chareidi public?” Azoulai asked Shaked.

Shaked replied that “there is a lot of empty space in the Negev as well as in Kiryat Gat where the chareidi public can come to live.”

The goal of the government, it seems, is to prevent the expansion and doubling of Kiryat Gat into a chareidi locality.