The site of the planned neighborhood in Mitzpeh Ramon 370.
(photo credit: Dov Greenblatt/SPNI)
Claiming that the construction of a planned residential neighborhood on the
cliffs of the Ramon Crater would be environmentally destructive, the Society for
the Protection of Nature in Israel filed an objection to the project on Monday
to the Southern District Committee for Planning and Building.
for the project, which SPNI said is being promoted by the Construction and
Housing Ministry, have only recently been deposited in the hands of the
committee, which is collecting objections to the plans through the end of
The future Gamal residential neighborhood on the cliffs of the
Ramon Crater could cause severe and irreversible damage to a landscape that has
international importance, the organization argued.
“Promotion of the
program is contrary to planning needs and would cause damage to one of the
treasures of nature and a unique landscape with which Israel is blessed, and
would therefore harm the character of the community,” the SPNI petition
This program, the petition explained, is the result of plans
outlined during the 1990s, when the mass immigration from the Soviet Union
occurred and an urgent need for new residential neighborhoods
“Despite the passage of time and changes in planning needs, the
injurious program remains,” the SPNI report continued.
The petition also
referred to State Comptroller’s Report 60-aleph, which states that the program
is contrary to government decisions regarding the concentration of urban
planning schemes, and that the program is incompatible with current planning
“The plan would cause irreparable damage to natural landmarks of
utmost importance and to the continuity of the landscape, which is one of the
most distinctively scenic features of Mitzpe Ramon,” the SPNI petition
The edge of the crater, the organization explained, must be
considered the same way as would be the seashore. Each year, hundreds of
thousands of tourists come to see the site due to its uniqueness, SPNI
“[The plan] in no way benefits the settlement and it does not take
into account trends in planning and alternatives available,” the petition said.
“This must be rejected.”
In response, the Construction and Housing
Ministry stressed that the plans for the neighborhood were formulated in
consultation with all of the relevant bodies regarding the protection of
“We do not accept the claim in the objection,” the ministry said
in a statement. “The objection will be discussed in a professional committee of
the Interior Ministry.”