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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Despite having to shelve plans to open a branch in Rishon Lezion's Ma'ayan Soreq area after a district court cancelled a rezoning permit, Ikea said it intends to move ahead with plans to build another store in the region.
"Right now we are analyzing all of our options - we are looking primarily in the area south of Tel Aviv, but we are also still looking at different options in Rishon Lezion," Ikea-Israel Director-General Shlomo Gabay, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
On Sunday, the Tel Aviv district court canceled a rezoning permit that would have allowed the opening of a new Ikea branch in the Ma'ayan Soreq area. The extraordinary permit, which had allowed for the reclassification of the land as "commercial" instead of "industrial," had been granted by the city's mayor, however, the court accepted two petitions from businesses in the area as well as one by the state government against the granting of the permit.
The decision marks a huge victory for the opponents of the Ikea project, which include a varied coalition of environmental protection groups, local Rishon merchants and residents of nearby moshavim, the small, farming communities in the area.
It also represents a serious setback to Matthew Bronfman and Shalom Fisher, the Ikea franchisees in Israel.
Nevertheless, Gabay remained confident about the future of the Swedish home furnishings giant here.
"We will open a second branch, possibly even in the same spot where we originally intended, depending on our appeal to the Supreme Court, and we are also planning on opening a third branch in the North within the next few years," he said.