JERUSALEM (Oct. 29)
Immediate and long-term plans for the absorption of an expected new wave of immigration, mainly from the Soviet Union, were disclosed by Israeli officials over the week-end. The emphasis is on housing for the newcomers and for immigrants already in the country who have been billeted at absorption centers as long as six months. Pinhas Sapir, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, said immediate plans called for the construction of more than 23,000 housing units for immigrants by April, 1976.
Housing Minister Avraham Ofer submitted a five-year housing development plan to the Cabinet yesterday that calls for the construction of 310,000 dwelling units in the next five years. One-third of them will be allocated for new immigrants and the balance for re-locating slum dwellers and for newly married couples who have a difficult time finding homes.
Sapir spoke to newsmen Friday after returning from a series of conferences on immigration in several European countries. He took off again Saturday on a continuation of his tour which includes South Africa and the United States. The Jewish Agency leader is scheduled to visit 40 Jewish communities to discuss aliya and United Jewish Appeal matters.
LARGE HOUSING LOANS FOR OLIM
He said that in addition to new housing construction, the Jewish Agency would extend large loans to immigrants for housing, would rent out fats and evacuate apartments now serving as temporary absorption centers. He said that by the end of next month, all immigrants who have been at absorption centers for six months would be moved to permanent housing. Jewish Agency policy is to keep immigrants in absorption centers no longer than a half year.
At the same time, Sapir said, 14 new absorption centers will be built throughout the country in anticipation of an influx from the Soviet Union alone of 60,000 immigrants a year. The Jewish Agency will also try to make available 1500 small flats for single immigrants. If these measures do not suffice the absorption department will rent hotels and similar facilities to serve as temporary absorption centers. Employment plans call for finding jobs for 1500 heads of families including 600 with university degrees, Sapir said.
At a press conference today, Ofer said his five-year housing program called for the requisition of some 30,000 dunams (more than 7000 acres) of land and the conversion of an additional 30,000 dunams previously ear-marked for agricultural development, for residential purposes. Most of the agricultural land is contained within municipal enclaves, the Minister said. He told the Cabinet yesterday that the three main areas considered for large-scale home building were East Jerusalem, Galilee and the Negev.