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The director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority has accused the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel of compromising nature to promote its commercial interests.

INPA director Eli Amitay sent a harshly worded letter yesterday to SPNI director Gershon Peleg, noting that an SPNI request to expand the Mount Meron field school into the INPA's nature reserve and construct overnight accommodations would severely damage the reserve.

However, the SPNI says Amitay's claims are groundless: Not only does it not intend to expand its facility, it wants to give half the field school's property to the reserve.

A subcommittee of the District Construction and Planning Committee this month approved a plan to formalize the status of the field school property, which has been operating on Mount Meron for more than 30 years. Peleg says the process was not completed earlier because of a technical glitch at the Interior Ministry. The subcommittee's decision will mean that the area of the field school will officially be excluded from the reserve where it is located.

According to Amitay's

In his letter to Peleg, Amitay wrote that the SPNI's supposed expansion plan makes the SPNI one more entity the INPA has to fight to protect its reserves from encroaching development.

The SPNI responded that the approved plans involve only the construction of a shelter, a classroom and an expanded dining room, all within the existing area of the school. In fact the organization says it intends to give part of its property once earmarked for construction back to the reserve.

The SPNI's representative in the north, Yohanan Darom, said yesterday: "The INPA does not want to approve the formalization of the field school's status because it wants to get back at us for opposing its plans to build various projects in reserves and national parks."