Joel Busner, the founder of the organization Buy a Piece of Israel, which encourages Jews from all over the world to buy private land in Israel, speaks with Arutz Sheva -- Israel National News about the effects of the war on the land of Israel.
“We have four plots in Yaniel and a Galilee country home in Migdal,” he says. “With the tensions in the north, they’re on hold right now.” Several towns in northern Israel have been evacuated due to continual rocket and missile fire from Lebanon towards Israel, including an incident in which an IDF soldier was killed.
“The war has significantly impacted everyone’s plans for buying any private residential land right now.” In Israel, Busner explains, only seven percent of all land is owned by private individuals, with the rest owned by the government or the Jewish National Fund and developed under extremely long-term leases. “There’s enough danger to keep people from making new plans or closing deals.”
Busner clarifies that the real estate market is far from collapsing. “People are certainly still interested. There is still a lot of interest in small plots or non-residential land. This is a good time for the Jews of the world to buy land in Israel -- foreign currencies are strong against the shekel right now, and the war has depressed real estate prices. Israel will still recover, though. The government can help, and should help. Israel’s economy is strong and stable, perhaps even more so than the US economy with their current deficit and inflation. The price of land in Israel will recover as well.”
“Historically, wars are good opportunities to buy land in Israel,” Busner claims. “It even says in the Bible that God commanded Jeremiah to buy land, just when Israel was about to be conquered. In 2006, there was a dip in prices because of the Lebanon war. We didn’t see any mass exodus of citizens, though. The economy and market recovered, the prices went sky-high, and they have never come back down. In this war, we don’t see people crowding around the airports to flee Israel -- we see lines of people at airports around the world trying to come back to Israel. Israel’s unity will help it win and help it recover.”
Busner is highly optimistic regarding southern Israel. “The south will still be a good place to live -- it has lots of industry and great property values. We will rebuild there. The government will need to support the rebuilding, with lower bureaucratic ‘red tape’ barriers, subsidize reconstruction, and tax benefits for moving there. Lower bureaucracy especially means more investors in the area. There should also be more government-owned land made available there to allow for future growth.”
Busner points out one thing, in particular, the government can do to help rebuild the communities devastated by the Hamas invasion. “The best thing the government can do to help rebuild the south right now is to win. Investors back stability, and stability stems from security. To provide security, the government must win this war properly -- and permanently. It will not be enough to drive Hamas out of Gaza. The government must retake and annex the Gaza Strip. Anything else will be an eternal problem.”
Developing the Gaza Strip after annexation would pose little challenge: “Gush Katif had a thriving industry, and the Gaza Strip includes excellent, high-value beach properties and agricultural land. It wasn’t private land before the expulsion from Gush Katif, but the government should make it available for development or privatize it. The main thing, though, is that it must become part of Israel again. We must bring it back, and with a vengeance.”
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