This week, the Ministry of Housing and Construction kicked off the housing lottery project to purchase apartments in Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem at a discounted price. The lottery is for Israelis eligible for discounted housing following the Ministry of Housing criteria, to try to win the right to buy an apartment at a discounted rate. This means that at this point, and after the lottery winners are revealed, it will become even more difficult to stop the construction.
These units were included in the construction tenders that the Ministry of Housing published right before President Trump left office. Then, in a quick attempt of the Netanyahu government to make the construction in Givat Hamatos a done deal, the Ministry hurried to award the winning bids on January 19, 2021, just one day before President Biden was sworn in.
The construction process at Givat Hamatos, which is initiated by the Ministry of Housing, goes as follows:
- 1 – Publication of tenders for contractors.
- 2 – Beginning of the infrastructure works (roads, sewage systems, etc.).
- 3 – Holding a lottery for those interested in purchasing an apartment at a discounted price.
- 4 – Start of the construction of the apartments by the contractors.
Peace Now: “The settlement in Givat Hamatos undermines the Israeli interest and harming peace prospects. Instead of canceling the plan and stopping the harmful and unnecessary construction, the government is taking advantage of the housing crisis to turn Jerusalem residents into settlers. We urge supporters of the two states within the government to keep their word and stop the plan immediately.”
Infrastructure works (for the preparation of roads, plots, sewage systems, etc.) in Givat Hamatos, 23/3/2022. Work has intensively started in recent weeks.
“Discounted Apartments” – how does it work?
One of the ways in which the government can impact the housing market is by kicking off housing projects. The government may determine the locations, the timing, and to a certain extent, the pricing of the housing units. In those projects, the Ministry of Housing publishes construction tenders, which are calls for proposals for contractors to offer bids to purchase the rights to build a certain project. The tenders include, among other issues, the trade conditions of the project by the contractors, including the prices.
When the Ministry of Housing publishes the construction tenders, it is specified in its terms that the contractors are obligated to allocate a certain number of housing units from the project to those eligible for discounted housing. After the tender closes and the contractors are assigned, the Ministry of Housing can open the lottery to the general public, and whoever wins the lottery will be able to purchase an apartment from the contractor under the conditions set by the Ministry of Housing.
Registration for the lottery opened last week for the purchase of 468 apartments in Givat Hamatos, and it will close on March 29. The other apartments that the contractors are building on Givat Hamatos can be sold at a regular price. It is important to note that usually, and also in the case of Givat Hamatos, the lottery is done even before the construction of the apartments in the area begins. Buyers purchase the apartments from the contractors even before, or during construction.
At the same time, and in recent weeks, the infrastructure work for the construction of the neighborhood has begun intensively (paving roads, preparing plots, sewerage and electricity systems, etc.). Infrastructure work is done on the initiative of the Ministry of Housing. Then, the contractors can start the construction of the apartments.
It was Netanyahu’s government that started the construction, promoted the plan, announced the tenders, and hurried to award the winning contractors before the change of government in the US. Now Bennet’s government is hurrying to open the lottery, which makes it much more difficult to stop construction.
For more information on Givat Hamatos and its ruinous implications concerning the chance for peace, see here