Standing by his motto of integrating social and environmental justice, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz decided on Sunday to allocate a budget of NIS 2 million to keep Israel’s beaches clean.

The ministry will distribute the funds among towns and cities located along the nation’s coasts, with a goal of preserving the natural beauty of the beaches along the Mediterranean Sea and Eilat, the office said.

To determine how much money each local authority will receive, the ministry is waiting to receive cleanup and maintenance plans from the relevant municipalities.

“Seashores are the property of the general public, and the public deserves to enjoy clean and inviting beaches,” Peretz said.

“Therefore, I decided to make this a priority and take measures in favor of the issue.”

In addition to allowing for increased cleaning operations, the funds will serve to provide educational activities in schools, public relations campaigns and enforcement, the ministry said.

If while receiving funds a municipality’s rating drops on the ministry’s monthly Clean Beach Index, the ministry said it will deduct some of the budget from that particular local authority.

Such measures will ensure that the towns are meeting their commitments, the ministry explained.

A national analysis of the country’s beach cleanliness for 2013 indicated that about half of these sandy shores ranked between “medium” and “very dirty” in terms of contamination.

The four authorities with the worst scores were Gan Raveh, Ashkelon, Tirat Carmel and Nahariya, according to the ministry.

“The phenomenon of marine waste is a global environmental problem growing all over the world, and in 2013 Mediterranean countries – among them Israel – decided to act vigorously to reduce this problem,” a statement from the ministry said.

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