Tel Aviv beach.
(photo credit: GOISRAEL)
Following 24 hours of intense pressure from environmental organizations, government officials have come to an agreement that will enable Palmahim Beach to become entirely national park land rather than a resort complex.
According to the agreement, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority – with the backing of other government bodies – will be responsible for financially compensating the developer that had been slated to build the resort on the beach. Although the Central District Committee for Planning and Building determined in December 2014 that the entire beach, located just south of Rishon Lezion, would be recognized as a national park, a method for reimbursing the developer for losses had not yet been finalized.
“The INPA, which will declare the beach a national park, will provide indemnification to the local committee,” a statement from the Environmental Protection Ministry said on Thursday night. “The Environmental Protection Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Israel Lands Authority and the Fund for Open Spaces will back up the authority if necessary in realizing the indemnity.”
Ahead of a Central District Committee meeting this coming Sunday, scheduled to hear the objections of the developer, green groups wrote on Wednesday to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, demanding that he find a way to provide the company the legally required compensation.
Among the signatories of the appeal were the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) and Adi Lustig, one of two sisters behind the initial grassroots campaign to save the beach.
In the 24 hours that followed, members of the public also sent more than 800 letters to Kahlon’s office, by means of a form available on SPNI’s website.
“Beaches belong to the public,” Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay said.
“I am glad that with the help of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, we were able to reach a solution that will keep Palmahim Beach in the hands of the public.”
Adam Teva V’Din praised the ministers for their immediate response, stressing that the speed proves how “cooperation among residents, organizations and the environmental protection minister is essential to preserving the natural assets that belong to all of us.”
“Adam Teva V’Din will work vigorously to repair the Coastal Preservation Law, through which dozens of other beaches threatened by destructive construction plans will be returned to the public,” the organization said.