C'tee slams ‘far too slow’ Gush Dan base evacuations

Israel Lands Authority pledges that land at the Tzrifin base will be marketed to the public for residential housing within 18 months.

Settlement Construction 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Settlement Construction 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israel Lands Authority (ILA) announced on Wednesday that it is planning to evacuate five army bases in Gush Dan in the center of the country, and that some of the land will be ready for residential projects within 18 months.
According to ILA director Benzi Lieberman, the land will become available after evacuation of IDF bases at Tzrifin, Tel Hashomer, Sirkin near Petah Tikva, Mahaneh Haslishot at Ramat Gan and Horodetzki in Givatayim.
Lieberman made his announcement in a meeting of the State Control Committee, which had convened in the wake of a state comptroller’s report that strongly criticized the Defense Ministry’s financial and organizational practices for evacuations.
During the meeting, committee chairman Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) slammed the ministry for evacuating the bases too slowly. Bar-On said that since no dates were fixed to evacuate and clear the bases for apartments, this didn’t seem to be an IDF priority.
Bar-On also criticized the IDF’s position that the evacuations were conditional on their receiving the budget for transferring the bases to the Negev.
“Ministers are indifferent to the state comptroller and have not internalized his criticisms,” Bar-On said. “The government handled his report in a negligent manner and the Defense Ministry’s conduct does not reflect its own commitments and schedule.”
Bar-On also blasted the Prime Minister’s Office for “not bothering to turn up to the meeting, even though they were invited.”
Lieberman said in the meeting that potential existed to create 100,000 housing units on IDF bases between Gedera and Hadera, and that the government would sign a “historic agreement” in the next few days to evacuate the five camps.
The ILA and the Defense Ministry would plan the evacuations together due to the security considerations involved, Lieberman said.
He added that over the next few days, the ILA and the ministry would begin to plan clearance of Mahane 80 near Pardess Hanna.
Defense Ministry deputy director general Brig.-Gen. (res.) Bezalel Treiber said that over the last two years, the country had returned around 65 army bases to the state, including six within the last two months. Fifteen more camps will be returned, he said.
Attorney Abraham Neeman raised the issue of evacuating the Israel Air Force compound at Sde Dov in north Tel Aviv, which he noted is located on valuable land and could accomodate 50,000 to 60,000 housing units.
Neeman quoted a recent conversation with former IAF commander Maj.-Gen.
Dan Halutz, saying Halutz admitted that the IAF does not need Sde Dov, but was reluctant to give it up.
Former Tel Aviv city planner Israel Gudovich said that the nine kilometer strip of land was “most desirable.”
Gudovich, who prepared a plan for 60,000 housing units on the land, said that plan involved building several towers of 40 stories each, all with apartments overlooking the sea. The program had also obtained consent from green organizations, he said .
In response, Treiber said that the Sde Dov military area is small and most of the plot is used for civilian purposes.
Lieberman noted that the Tel Aviv municipality is interested in keeping Sde Dov Airport, so that local residents could use it for vacations to Eilat.