The Israel Land Administration on Thursday nixed a haredi real estate group's plan to gain control of vast amounts of land in the newly constructed city of Harish, located between Hadera and Netanya.
The Ministry of Housing and Construction, headed by Shas MK Ariel Atias, had planned to turn Harish into a city with a largely ultra-Orthodox population. The Israel Land Administration's decision means that the city will revert to being a mixed secular and religious community, because other bidding groups eclipsed by the haredi real-estate cartel were secular.
The auction of 4,634 housing units ended on Thursday, and the presently small community of a few hundred families in Harish will soon become part of a city home to thousands. A representative from the Land Authority said that following the auction, the Land Authority received reports that multiple haredi organizations, all tied to one company, made numerous bids, which is illegal.
Real estate developers will pay the authority a total of 125 million shekels ($33.6 million) for the land, part of which was sold for a reduced price on the condition that developers build inexpensive housing or affordable apartments for rent.
Yoav Zahavi of Zahavi, Blau and Associates, represented the Ne'ot Harish group, which sought to fight against the "haredi conquest of the community." Zahavi stated on Thursday: "The Israel Land Administration acted with integrity and barred an illegal cartel."
Noam Hillel, founder of Neo't Harish, called the land authority's decision a "very happy moment." Rabbi and attorney Uri Regev, founder of the "Hiddush — For Freedom of Religion and Equality” organization, said that "unfortunately, even after the prohibition there is a fear that only one in five of the new home owners will not be haredi." Long-time participant in the Harish fight, Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz said he hopes that the case is evaluated further to find out if there were other transgressions.
The haredi housing committee in Harish released a statement in response, saying that "the organizations' behavior was impeccable."