haifa port 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The special directors-general committee set up to allocate the land around the
Haifa Port is expected to come to a decision on Thursday. At issue is the future
development of the port under National Master Plan 30.
The debate about
land allocation has pitted the Israel Ports Development and Assets Company (IPC)
on one side and the Kishon River Authority on the other, with the committee in
the middle. The IPC wants to ensure sufficient land will be available to expand
the port to meet future need, as the number of containers reaching Israel’s
shores doubles every decade. To that end, the IPC has calculated that it needs
3,750 dunam (375 hectares) near the port.
Some 2,500 dunams do not have
to be near the water’s edge, IPC CEO Shlomo Brieman told environmental reporters
Sunday, at a briefing in its offices. Nevertheless, that means 1,250 dunams do
need to be in close proximity to the water.
IPC and the Israel Lands
Administration were set to sign a lease for the land, until the Kishon Stream
Authority got wind of it and submitted its objections.
The Kishon, which
runs through the port area, has been undergoing a massive rehabilitation project
for years. Part of that project involves building a public park along the banks
of the river. To that end, 1,200 dunams by the river are required, Kishon Stream
Authority head Sharon Nissim told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
a tour of the area by the directors-general committee last week, Nissim called
on the members to come up with a creative solution to enable a park for this
generation and generations to come.
The major national environmental
groups have argued that the park is sorely needed for Haifa residents; the park
is also backed by the national association of fishermen and 300 academics who
signed a petition to the government.
Meanwhile, a survey of 500 residents
of Haifa and its environs conducted earlier this week by Dialog and released
Wednesday found that more than 80 percent preferred a park to leasing the land
Seventy-eight percent said there weren’t enough green spaces in
the Haifa area. The same number said that the park should be public property and
not the property of the IPC.
However, the northern branch of the
Manufacturer’s Association and the Israeli Sea Holds Office both sent letters to
the committee asking them not to “dry out” the port by reducing its area for
Brieman said he did not object to the park per se,
but insisted that IPC had checked out the alternative development areas and
there weren’t any farther away. However, during the briefing, Brieman did say
that a plot to the north of the disputed area around the Kishon, which was
currently slated for development as residential housing, “would solve much of
“I spent hours trying to convince the investigator for
National Master Plan 30 to adjust the plan and give us that plot of land, but to
no avail. The committee will have to decide now,” he said.
said that relocating the air force base situated at the port would free up some
In general, the maps indicated that not all the businesses
currently located at the port actually have any sort of connection to sea trade.
For instance, Egged just won a tender to build a garage at the port, while a
health clinic and a reception hall are also located in the area.
It is up
to the committee now to see whether it can balance all the conflicting needs of
the city – economic development and employment through the port, housing, and
open green spaces for the populace to enjoy.
Knesset Health and
Environment Committee Chairman Dov Henin (Hadash) said his committee would be
holding follow-up hearings on the topic.