New Lower Galilee community shelved for now
National planning and building council sends plans for Ramat Arbel back to government, saying plans need reevaluation.
Ramat Arbel in Lower Galilee. Photo: Yonatan Darom/SPNI
Plans for a new Lower Galilee community are returning to the hands of the
government, after the National Council for Planning and Building determined on
Tuesday that it needed reevaluation, since more than a decade had passed since
the government decision that spawned the idea.
In a 2007 hearing, the
council decided to reject the establishment of the proposed community, Ramat
Arbel. However, the results of a subsequent court petition required the council
to hold another hearing on the issue, which it did on Tuesday, over five years
The idea of building Ramat Arbel initially came from the Lower
Galilee Regional Council and private developers following a 2002 government
decision that spoke of a need to strengthen the Galilee in general and attract
new immigrants there, according to the Interior Ministry.
need to strengthen the region with newcomers, communities in the regional
council insisted that they had no land reserves or apartment units available for
young families and couples interested in moving there. So the regional council
proposed the creation of Ramat Arbel, southeast of the Masad community and Route
65, as a site for the necessary new housing and infrastructure, the ministry
Opponents of the plan have particularly stressed their opposition
to urban sprawl, and a preference for expanding existing settlements over
establishing new ones, the Interior Ministry explained. Environmental groups
have also argued that the slated construction site is on sensitive nature spots,
such as Arbel National Park, Mount Kotz Nature Reserve and a special point
overlooking Lake Kinneret, the ministry added.
The National Council for
Planning and Building also stressed that establishing a permanent settlement in
this spot would contradict the national master plan for the
Those against the plan have also found that in the past three
years, there have been other programs approved that allow for increased density
in nearby urban communities such as Tiberias and Safed, and building a new
community would run contrary to encouraging the development of these areas, the
The community had been slated to rise from the
western ridge of Arbel and contain 500 housing units, according to information
from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).
topic heading back to the cabinet – later to return, updated, to the National
Council for Planning and Building – SPNI stressed the importance of reinforcing
existing towns and cities in the region for a stronger Galilee.
strengthening of the Galilee is an important goal and must be achieved by
condensation and expansion of existing settlements, which desperately need new
inhabitants, and not by establishing new communities, which would have a
substantially negative impact on natural assets, scenery and open spaces,” a
statement from SPNI read.