The cabinet is set to discuss on Sunday a proposal of the Environmental Protection Ministry to send the plan to build a vacation village next to the Palmahim Beach back to the district planning committee for rezoning as a public open space rather than a tourism site.
While a local plan from 2002 does allot 70 dunams for 350 housing units, the Environmental Protection Ministry contends that the vacation village would restrict public access to one of the few remaining open beaches in the area and harm the sensitive ecological habitat as well. The Tourism Ministry, however, contends that if Israel wants to be able to put up the five million tourists expected annually by 2015, then hotels must continue to be built at a rapid pace. Moreover, a vacation village would serve the public as well, it contends.
The proposal would send the plan back to the district planning committee to revisit the issue with the recommendation to rezone the area as a public open space.