The Defense Ministry announced on Monday plans to hand over a disused IDF base in Tel Aviv for residential construction.

Ministry deputy director-general, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Bezalel Treiber, said the IDF would evacuate and market the Horodetski base, on the border between Tel Aviv and Givatayim, within approximately two years.

Trieber said the IDF would also invest NIS 8 million over the next two years to evacuate other disused bases and return them to the Israel Lands Authority.

The announcements, made at a special meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee, come in the wake of a state comptroller’s report that strongly criticized the Defense Ministry’s financial and organizational practices over land evacuations.

In Monday’s meeting, Trieber said Defense Ministry officials are currently mapping out some 750 other bases, and expect to complete the project by 2013.

Trieber said the ministry hoped to reach an agreement with the ILA regarding whether the land would be returned to them in its current state, or whether the army would first need to decontaminate it. “We think it’s important that some of the land should be put out for tender in its current state, and we are in favor of having the contractor who wins the tender decontaminate it prior to construction,” he said.

Control Committee chairman MK Uri Ariel (National Union) said the issue of the IDF returning disused land was “extremely important.”

Many of the disused IDF bases are in cities where the cost of living is high, Ariel said. “This situation cannot remain as it has for the past 60 years. It cannot be the case that the IDF continues to hold so much land when it doesn’t need it,” he added.

Ron Israel, representing the State Comptroller’s Office, said the negotiations between the Defense Ministry and the ILA should proceed as fast as possible.

Meanwhile, Yisrael Scop, a senior official at the ILA, said the authority had established a team to monitor the disused bases and to create computerized maps of the land.

The ILA was waiting for the ministry to provide it with data on the land, Scop said, estimating that it would take the ILA up to three years to properly input all of the data.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman told the meeting that the Ministerial Committee on State Control had also debated the issue of returning disused army bases.

Neeman said he hoped the Defense Ministry and the ILA would remain on schedule with their plans.

Former Tel Aviv city planner Israel Gudovich, however, argued that it would take at least ten years for the IDF to fully evacuate all of the disused bases, and called on the government to lease out parts of the land in the meantime.

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