Netanya beach
Photo by Chen Ashad
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There is no public interest in a suit against holding private parties on a Netanya-area beach, and therefore, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam Teva V'Din ) has no right to join the suit, the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court ruled this week.

The IUED said it intends to appeal the decision, as the public has a clear interest in keeping the beaches open to everyone.

The suit, filed three weeks ago by the Tzukei Yam town council, challenged a decision by the Emek Hefer Regional Council and Avraham Davush, who operates the Neurim beach north of Netanya on Emek Hefer's behalf, to allow private events, including weddings, on the beach. Tzukei Yam said this not only prevents the public from using the beach, but also causes noise pollution from which the town's residents suffer.

The IUED was heavily involved in the public battle against these private parties, and therefore sought to join the suit as an amicus curiae. Given that there have been several court rulings in recent years against private use of beaches, all of which stressed the importance of preserving the beaches as a public resource, the IUED was confident that the court would grant this request, and was stunned by the court's rejection.

In its request to join the suit, the IUED argued that even though the beach is not fenced off, and members of the public are not prevented from entering the beach while private parties are being held, the very existence of such events deters the public from using the beach. "Holding events slated for a defined group of people, who are offered special services such as catering, music, places to sit and more, necessarily prevents, or at least undermines, the general public's ability to go swimming or relax there," it wrote.

But Judge Oshrit Rothkopf rejected its request, saying the suit "is a local dispute between the parties to the case and entails no public interest, nor is it likely to have any large-scale public ramifications."

The IUED's executive director, attorney Amit Bracha, said the court had made a legal error. "The law states that the beaches belong to the public and are meant for its benefit," he said. "No beach belongs only to the local residents, and therefore we intended to appeal this decision and insist on our right to represent the entire public's interests."