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Local and national authorities are neglecting to take necessary steps to prevent the collapse of cliffs along Israel's coastline, according to a report released on Wednesday by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.

The erosion of the cliffs is the result of wind, water run-off over the top of the cliffs and the force of waves at their base. Despite their instability, local authorities have continued to encourage construction on and along the cliffs.

According to Lindenstrauss, government ministries began considering the issue of the cliffs' instability 18 years ago, but waited years to address it. In the interim, the state comptroller noted, authorities have approved projects which have exacerbated the situation, for example by giving the green light to marinas that have disrupted the natural flow of sand up the coast.

A state plan to deal with the problem, due to be completed in 2006, was delayed by four years and government ministries refrained from providing assistance to local authorities to address the issue.

The state comptroller's report also reveals problems encountered when efforts were undertaken to shore up the cliffs. In Ashkelon, for example, the municipality installed textile cylinders to protect the cliffs, but failed to maintain these installations. Along another stretch of beach, the city built a seaside promenade on the cliffs despite the risk that they could collapse.

On the coast north of Netanya, at Beit Yanai, a large number of homes have been constructed in an area where building was prohibited by the national master plan for the coastline. A plan to regulate the conditions for construction in the area was developed, but was never implemented due to the high costs involved.

The Environmental Protection Ministry issued the following response: "A policy paper for the protection of the coastal cliffs was completed some time ago. Its recommendations have been presented to planning committees. Cabinet approval of the document has been delayed due to differences between the finance and justice ministries concerning the extent of the state's responsibility and the approach that should be taken to protect the cliffs."