The city of Harish in the Galilee has become a new battlefield for secular and Orthodox Jews.
Harish was initially intended by the government to be a new Orthodox urban centre and after a marketing initiative aimed at the Orthodox community, an auction was held for plots of land in the city.
However, a court ruling has now declared that this auction was discriminatory, and the development land of Harish is now open to bids from the general public.
The decision to allow the purchase of land by everyone has sparked a bidding war between secular and Orthodox Jews, each trying to determine the city’s character.
Two secular purchasing groups united on Thursday in order to sign up as many non-observant Jews as they can .
Hami Ben-Or, one of the secular group’s leaders said: “This joining of forces will allow us to bid on the larger areas of land and ultimately change the city’s character.”
The sides have just a week and a half to make bids to the Israel Land Administration.
The main attraction of the Harish development is that the land is free and so the price of an apartment is only that of the building and development costs.
Apartments are expected to average at 400,000 NIS (£64,000), which is considered low-priced for its location, only 45 minutes from Tel Aviv.