National council rules in favor of controversial hotel

The National Council for Planning and Construction has accepted the recommendation of the District Committee for Planning and Construction, and has approved the construction of a 160-room, eight-story hotel on Eilat's southern Almog beach, reports Environmental groups, who have fiercely opposed the proposed hotel at every stage of the planning process, expressed disappointment at the decision and said it was likely to be catastrophic for the already endangered coral reef in the area. According to the report, the national council approved the hotel after agreeing to cancel planning laws that prohibit additional building on Eilat's beaches. An unused two-story building currently stands on the site, and unidentified private entrepreneurs applied for approval to add six more stories and build a 160-room hotel there. Now that the national council has approved the building, the plans will go before the government for final discussions. "To our sorrow, the national council has preferred the narrow interest of private entrepreneurs over the wide interest of benefiting the public in general," a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Nature said. "The Society believes that Eilat's beaches are national property and it is appropriate that every committee and the national council should treat beach development initiatives in accordance with this. The coral reef is in chronic danger because of massive development in the Eilat area and every additional hotel built on the Almog beach is likely to be catastrophic for it." The spokesman added that before final approval was given, there would still be time for the presentation of public objections, and said the society would be among the objectors and would "continue our struggle against this planned damage to Eilat's southern beach."