12 Haredi Nonprofits Disqualified From Land Bid After Allegedly Forming An Illegal “Cartel” To Block Non-Haredi Bids
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s Lands Authority (ILA) disqualified tenders from 12 haredi nonprofits that were bidding for building rights in the developing city of Harish, finding that the haredi charities formed an illegal “cartel” called the United Haredi Housing Committee and worked together against a competing non-haredi group. A non-haredi buyers group had previously raised suspicions of price-fixing among the haredi groups in violation of Israel’s land tenders law.
“There is a suspicion that one source coordinated between the different [haredi] proposals. The tenders committee of the ILA called a hearing for the [haredi] nonprofits and their legal reps and decided to disqualify…them,” the ILA reportedly said.
Initial reports claimed that that the haredi charities had won tenders for most of the lots.
The ILA committee decided that it will run the tenders for 319 housing units on four plots again at a later date.
It is not yet clear if the 12 haredi groups will be allowed to resubmit bids.
Tenders for another 4,300 housing units were allowed to stand. Among those who won those successful tenders is an organization that will build 300 homes for Israeli Arab families.
Tenders for another 5,000 units will be opened for bidding in the future.
Overall, 10,000 new housing units are planned for Harish, which began its existence as a small secular and Zionist Orthodox town and originally was supposed to be developed to reflect that diversity. In 2010 it had about 300 residents – all secular and Zionist Orthodox.
But haredi control of Israel’s Housing Ministry allowed the development process to be shifted from diversity to a haredi-only environment with lower-rise apartments designed for large families. Gone were most of the parks and green space along with the community amenities secular and Zionist Orthodox Jews desire. In their place went more planned low-rise apartment buildings geared to haredim, and government ministers and Knesset Members touted Harish as an all-haredi city that would help ease the haredi housing shortage as ads from the haredi nonprofits enticed haredim to buy in the new “haredi” city.
But a secular group successfully appealed that development plan with the help of long time Harish residents and eventually was allowed to bid for tenders after a public fight.
The haredi cartel was allegedly designed to make sure the combined secular and Zionist Orthodox did not win.
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