Court blasts ‘Jew-free’ housing in Israeli city

Judge rules that the State hid rigged lottery system that reserved apartments for Arab buyers, specifically excluding Jews.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The Tel Aviv Regional Court struck down plans for a new State-sponsored housing development that would be open strictly to Arab buyers, with a judge blasting the government for obfuscating the origin of the ethnically discriminatory project.

On Sunday, Judge Kobi Vardi ruled that a government-backed subsidized housing project in Jaffa, which is part of the Tel Aviv Municipality, could not continue with its plan to exclude Jewish potential homebuyers.

Thirty of the apartments in the project were earmarked for sale as part of the Israeli government’s “buyer’s price” initiative, which offers relatively inexpensive apartments for first-time home buyers.

Because demand for the apartments is so high, the initiative uses a lottery-style system in which winners are meant to be drawn at random.

But unknown officials in the Tel Aviv Municipality decided that winners of the lottery would be limited to Arabs only, specifically excluding Jews from benefiting from the initiative.

In his ruling, Vardi noted that the decision was not presented to the public in a transparent fashion – rather, Jews had been allowed to enter the drawing, and the reality that the lottery was rigged to ensure that only Arabs would win was hidden from entrants.

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According to an Israel Hayom report, Vardi said that the State had repeatedly refused to turn over information about the decision-making process that led to the ethnically discriminatory policy and that government representatives had even presented false information in court.

“No real explanation or answer was given” by the State as to how the decision was made. Vardi added that when he asked for the identity of the person or people who prevented Jews from buying the apartments, the State was “avoidant” and “did not give any answer to these basic questions.

“It is hard to believe that the State makes ‘hush-hush’ decisions. This is hard to understand,” Vardi wrote.

Vardi ordered that the upcoming lottery drawing for the apartments be frozen.

The revelation about the housing initiative excluding Jews comes as Israel is in the midst of a housing crisis, with prices for apartments skyrocketing in recent years.