Following a seven-year legal battle, the Jerusalem District Court has decided to reject a plan to build a neighborhood over a site off the coast of Aqueduct Beach, just north of the ancient city of Caesarea, the Antiquities Authority announced on Monday.

The decision, which was made on December 13, denied the appeal of the Caesarea Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild Development Corporation and thereby determined that a residential neighborhood would not be cropping up on the Aqueduct Beach.

Approval of the plan would cause “irreparable damage to ancient remains, harm the cultural heritage of the State of Israel, as well as eliminate one of the important archeological sites of the country,” the Antiquities Authority had expressed in its official position to the court.

While the developer argued in the appeal that a rejection of the project would constitute expropriation of land by the Antiquities Authority, the court decided this was not the case, due to the fact that it did not rule out the possibility of tourism development of the area. Likewise, the court rejected the developer’s argument that the court was taking the Antiquities Law to an extreme by siding with the Antiquities Authority, as the findings in the Aqueduct area are not ones of relatively great importance.

The court responded by citing a High Court of Justice ruling from 2009 that “it is necessary to consider the fact that Israel is indeed a young country, but has deep roots in human history, and its lands are saturated with ancient remains of human civilization,” according to the Antiquities Authority.

“This is a most important legal precedent, that for the first time a court determined that there is a collision between the important values of developing the country and preserving its ancient cultural assets – with the latter ending up on top,” said Radwan Badchi, an attorney for the authority.

“This court decision also enables the Antiquities Authority to influence the planning process when it comes to an ancient site.”

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