Spatial Planning and Policy in Israel

The Cases of Netanya and Umm al-Fahm

image of Spatial Planning and Policy in Israel

This report examines spatial planning and policies in Israel. It describes the laws, policies and practices in the country as a whole, and provides a detailed assessment of arrangements and practices in two cities: Netanya, a fast-growing city on the Mediterranean coast; and Umm al-Fahm, the country’s third-largest city with a predominantly Arab population. Israel recently carried out a major reform of its land-use planning system, largely to address a housing shortage that has become critical. Detailed case studies highlight the trends and challenges faced in both cities and describe how policies designed at the national level affect local land-use issues. The report offers recommendations on how to strengthen the effectiveness of the spatial planning system and related policies to ensure that land is used in an effective and sustainable way.



Assessment and recommendations

The regulation of land use in Israel is anchored in a centralised top-down planning system that underwent major reforms since 2011. The need for reform was driven by slow and rigid planning procedures that, in combination with macroeconomic circumstances and continuous population growth, could not accommodate the high demand for housing, thus contributing to a significant housing shortage. As a result, house and rental prices were increasing steadily: 80% and almost 40%, respectively, between 2008 and 2016. In contrast, real average wages increased only by 4% over the same period. In 2011, thousands of people protested against the rapid increases in cost of living, which steered the national government’s focus towards addressing the undersupply of housing. At present, the housing challenge is addressed in two parallel approaches: first, ongoing reform processes aim to eliminate structural deficiencies in the planning system; and second, the introduction of short- to medium-term programmes that allow a quick increase in housing supply complemented by the development of a long term housing strategy.


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