Ending a decade-long battle over the fate of Palmahim Beach, the Central
District Court rejected a petition earlier this week in which developers
requested authorization to construct a disputed resort village on the
“We cannot underestimate the legitimate economic interests of the
petitioners, but on the other hand, we cannot ignore the wider interests of the
general public,” Judge Jacob Sheinman wrote in his decision.
The fate of
Palmahim Beach has been a hot-button issue since 2004, when developers first
signed an agreement to build a hotel complex on the site, after the government
issued a tender for the project. Environmentalists quickly responded in a fury,
slamming the plans as destructive to the unique flora and fauna that
characterize the region.
By 2008, environmental advocacy group Adam Teva
V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) had joined in the fight, followed
by then-environmental protection minister Gilad Erdan. Following a State
Comptroller’s Report criticizing the project in 2009 and Erdan’s decision to
bring the issue to national attention, the government chose to reevaluate the
In January 2013, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the
Environmental Protection Ministry submitted detailed plans for transforming the
beach into a national park and nature reserve to the Central District Planning
and Construction Committee. A month later, the committee decided that it would
consider the change if the National Planning and Construction Committee agreed
to rezone the land.
Following this decision, the developers slated to
build the resort village – Maoz Daniel and the Evelon Group – filed the petition
to the Central District Court.
In his ruling, Sheinman stressed how
nearly all of Israel’s relevant authorities had come out against the plans,
describing the Palmahim coast as “one of the last beaches remaining in a natural
state in Israel.”
Those against the plans have stressed how preserving the open
space of the beach will benefit members of the public both today and in the
future, and that building the resort there could cause “irreparable harm,” the
While Sheinman rejected the developers’ petition, he did
rule that the petitioners will be repaid their NIS 54,000 in court
Amit Bracha, the executive director of Adam Teva V’Din, welcomed
the decision, praising the judge for making the interests of the public a
“Now we must ensure that the national committee quickly
approves the plan to transform the beach into a national park, ending the
ongoing war,” Bracha said.