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The Schmooze

Israel To Convert Army Bases Into Apartments

Israel’s government may kill two birds with one stone by converting as many as eight army bases into residential living areas.

The plan, still under discussion among the treasury, defense ministry and Israel Land Administration, would initially turn four bases into apartment complexes, in a move that could eventually create up to 40,000 new housing units in the greater Tel Aviv area. The plan addresses two sources of local protest: anxiety among residents who’ve seen real estate prices sky-rocket in recent years because of a housing shortage, and concerns among army officials over a treasury proposal to cuts its budget by 3 billion shekels (about $795 million) annually.

Though the converted bases wouldn’t be ready for move-in day until 2017, the plan calls for marketing and sales to begin much earlier, allowing the military to begin collecting money for the bases as early as next year. The army would shift its activities from the evacuated bases — which include major facilities at Tel Hashomer, Tsrifin and Sde Dov — to the Negev, in line with plans that have bee floated for years.

According to Friday’s report in Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper, the creation of the new housing would help to alleviate financial pressure on residents of the Tel Aviv area. In a summer of social protests that took place across the country, Tel Aviv witnessed some of the largest demonstrations due to its worsening housing crunch.

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