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The cabinet yesterday approved the principles of a policy paper aimed at keeping parts of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline cliff from collapsing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan proposed that an interministerial committee produce a plan within three months to implement the principles.

The document approved yesterday envisages an outlay of NIS 470 million to complete the reinforcement of the cliffs, which is to take 20 years. The cabinet also voted to find funding for the plan.

The policy paper was prepared recently by experts at the Environmental Policy Center at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the Environmental Protection Ministry. It states that the cliff has retreated a few dozen centimeters a year due to human activity and natural erosion, thus creating the danger of collapse.

Last year a man was killed at a Netanya beach when part of the cliff collapsed, and portions of the cliff at Ashkelon and Herzliya have also collapsed, endangering people and structures.

The experts recommend physically reinforcing segments amounting to 13 kilometers of the 45-kilometers of cliff. The mainly urban areas suggested for reinforcement include the areas of Ashkelon, Herzliya and the beach to the north of both cities.

Breakwaters, special netting, drainage systems and rock embankments like the one recently placed at the foot of the ancient site of Apollonia (Arsuf) are among the alternatives raised. However,the work at Apollonia was criticized by environmentalists for destroying the beach.

The document highlights the damage collapse would do to public infrastructure and private property along the cliff.

The cabinet debated the extent of government responsibility for endangered natural assets, and the attorney general said that since the policy document points out the danger of collapse, the state must take reasonable action to minimize such damage, although not necessarily pay for it.