Entrance to IDF base 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Eliana Aponte)
The Defense Ministry announced on Monday plans to hand over a disused IDF base in Tel Aviv for residential construction.
Defense 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 for evacuating other disused bases and returning them to the Israel Lands Administration (ILA).
The announcements, made at a special meeting of the 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 Israel Lands Administration (ILA) regarding whether the land would be returned to the ILA 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," Trieber 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 Israeli, 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 ILA had established a team to monitor the disused bases and to computerize maps of the land.
The ILA was waiting for the Defense 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 the data about the land.
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman told the meeting 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.