netanyahu - Itzik Ben Malki - November 29 2010
The Netanyahu family’s home in Caesarea. Photo by Itzik Ben Malki
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The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the Shin Bet plan to pave an access road from his home in Caesarea to the coastal highway. The road would cut across the Heruvei Caesarea nature reserve.

"We fear the road would cause irreversible damage to the ecology of this valuable area," wrote the society's director, Avinoam Ben Yitzhak. "The proposed access road is temporary, but the damage to nature would be permanent. Even if the road is needed for security reasons, we are certain that a solution can be found without destroying nature, which belongs to everyone."

Last week, Haaretz reported that the Shin Bet had approached the Nature and Parks Authority with the idea. The authority told Haaretz that the Shin Bet did not present a detailed plan.

Permission for such a road is not easily obtained, since it would necessitate changing the status of land within a nature reserve, which requires the approval of several planning committees.

Heruvei Caesarea is a strip of sand dunes separating the city from the coastal highway. It has shrunk in recent years, following the construction of the Or Akiva interchange in the south and a sand bank separating Caesarea from Jisr al-Zarqa in the north. It is one of the country's last remaining expanses of sand.

"The reserve contains a variety of habitats, which form an ecological system sustaining plant and animal species typical of sand dunes. Some are considered rare," wrote Ben Yitzhak to the prime minister. "To our regret, many such habitats already have been heavily damaged by expansive building and infrastructure. We must meticulously preserve the little that is left."

The prime minister's office said in response yesterday that the matter was being considered by the security service, and no decision has yet been reached.

"The prime minister is not involved in the matter, and any decision made, if any, will be carried out in accordance to the law and in coordination with all relevant authorities," it stated.

The Shin Bet said that the concept of a road was being considered, and that it approached the Nature and Parks Authority to find an alternative that does not damage the environment. The security service said no final decision has been made.