You are currently viewing Town Planning in Israel

Town Planning in Israel

Town planning in Israel is set out in the Town Planning law.  If you intend to buy property in Israel or own property in Israel, it is good to have a basic level of knowledge about Israeli town planning.

The Hierarchy of Town Plans in Israel: National, Regional, and Local

Town plans are made by the local, regional, and national town planning authorities. Each plan that is passed in a legal manner and in accordance with the procedures set on in the Town Planning Law is given the standing of law as if it was a law legislated by the Knesset.

National Town Plans in Israel: Tama 38, Tama 35, Tama 31

These are plans that apply to the whole country.  They are meant to be applied by the local authorities in their cities.  An example of such a national plan is the famous “Tama 38“. This national plan deals with the strengthening of buildings built before 1980 against earthquakes.

Another national plan is “Tama 35”.  Passed in 2005, Tama 35 deals with the preservation of historical buildings and sites in Israel.  It calls for the preservation of whole neighborhoods and areas while providing definitions for these terms.

Another national plan is “Tama 31”.  Enacted in the 1990s at a time of large immigration (aliya) of Jews from the Former Soviet Union, this plan deals with the need to plan new neighborhoods in a timelier fashion while not destroying historic buildings and districts.

These national plans are used as planning tools by the local planning authorities who oversee planning their cities, neighborhoods, and streets.

Regional Town Plans in Israel

Israel is divided into several regions. Each region has a planning board. The purpose of the regional plans is to set out what is necessary to implement national plans and the preparations for other plans that are important for the region.

Local Plans

A city in Israel is made up of at least 17,000 people.  Every city has a municipality that has a local planning board. Towns with small populations have a local council and local planning boards. Agricultural settlements are grouped together in a local regional council.

The local planning boards make town plans for an entire city.  An example of this is Tel Aviv’s town plan 5000. Then more specific town plans are made for various segments of the city.  These town plans are called “Special Town Plans”. Once a special town plan is in place then building permits can be issued for the construction of buildings.

The Complicated Law and Process of Town Planning in Israel

The above is an extremely simplistic explanation of a very complicated law. The Planning law was first enacted in 1965. Since then, it has been reformed, changed, and added to many times over the years. The law deals with town plans, adaptive reuse of land, change of zoning, building permits, appeals on town planning decisions, objecting to a town plan, Betterment tax, compensation for the confiscation of land, confiscation to owners whose rights were damaged due to a new town plan and many more issues.

Jerusalem town planning

How does this law affect you as a property owner in Israel?

Here are some examples:

  • You own an apartment and there have been changes in zoning that enhance the worth of your apartment. What do those changes allow you to do and will there be a betterment tax?
  • You own a plot of land that was slated for agricultural use, and it was changed to commercial or residential use. What can you build? Is there a betterment tax?
  • You own land that was confiscated by the municipality. Are you entitled to compensation?
  • What is planned for your neighborhood? What is planned for the next plot over? A school? A synagogue? A park?
  • A neighbor is doing renovations that damage your property.  What can you do?
  • A new town plan has been passed that adversely affects your property.  What can you do? Sue for compensation?
  • A new town plan is in the works that you are not happy with. What can you do about this? Go to town hall meetings?

This important law affects the quality of life in the cities and neighborhoods, yet it is not widely understood. In the future, I will write more posts about the various topics covered in this very complicated law