Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Settlements and Real Estate Costs In Israel

Well it was only a matter of time, before someone would try and explain how the occupation is also responsible for the price of real estate in Israel:

As Israeli peace activist Dror Etkes noted in Haaretz, the government initiated the construction of about 20 percent of all new housing units built in Israel between 1994 and 2009. During the same time period, however, the government was responsible for building 48.4 percent of all residential units in the settlements. Do the math: The government cares twice as much about building homes for settlers as it does about housing young Israelis in Israel. This is particularly true when it comes to Tel Aviv: Between 2006 and 2009, not a single unit of public housing was erected in what is for many the country’s most desirable market.
Israelis enraged about the cost of housing, then, shouldn’t block roads in Haifa and Jerusalem. They should block roads in Bet El and Ofra and Kedumim and Ariel and the other settlements that continue to receive wildly disproportionate chunks of taxpayers’ money. Nobody can escape politics. And those who try are doomed only to lose at it.

The problem with this argument is that it makes no sense. There are roughly 300,000 settlers. If Israel had not spent the money to house those 300,000 settlers in the west bank, it would have had to house them inside the green line. The total amount of housing that needs to be provided remains a constant.   Furthermore - land in the west bank is certainly cheaper then land near Tel Aviv. The settlements were cheap land – which means that the government got more for its money then it would have gotten if the same sum were spent inside the green line. In essence the settlements were the cheap housing for some 40 years.

There is a simple counter argument. The counter argument assumes that some day in the future these settlements are going to be vacated by Israel – and hence all the money invested in them was wasted. This is certainly a valid argument – but only if you accept the assumption – something that is still being debated.

It would appear that have found at least one  social ill that I don't think you can blame the settlers for.

I'll add one last thought of what should be making any dreamy eyed leftist pause. What will be the effect on the cost of real estate should Israel suddenly have to absorb 300,000 settlers?  

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