The Shin Bet security service is considering having a road paved through nature reserves to link Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's private home in Caesarea with Route 2, the coastal highway.
The sand dunes around the town are one of the last remaining undeveloped plots in the area, and environmental activists say running a road through them could cause severe, irreversible damage.
Last week the Shin Bet asked the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to give an initial assessment about laying a road to allow cars to pass from Netanyahu's residence to the highway without passing through central Caesarea.
It remains unclear whether the road would be paved or not, and whether it would be open only to Prime Minister's Office employees, or to area residents, too.
The Heruvei Caesarea reserve, named for its large concentration of carob trees, lies between Caesarea and the highway. The reserve's northern end is marked by a dirt path laid by Caesarea authorities to separate the town from the adjacent village of Jisr al-Zarqa. That path, activists say, already has caused considerable environmental damage.
Most of the areas that were once uninhabited sand dunes have been developed over the years, and environmentalists say it is essential that the area be preserved in its natural state to protect the wide variety of plant and animal life there.
The Shin Bet stated in response, "This issue is being examined from a general perspective, but at this stage no decision has been made on the issue. Any decision made, if any, will be done in accordance with the law and in coordination with the relevant authorities."
The Nature and Parks Authority confirmed it had been contacted by Netanyahu's security officials, but did not elaborate.
Any zoning changes within nature reserves have to receive the approval of a number of planning and building committees within the Nature and Parks Authority and other official bodies. The cost of such a road cannot be estimated yet, as the Shin Bet has not indicated what kind of road it would be.
The Society for the Preservation of Nature in Israel said in a statement that the area "already has been trapped in between the Coastal Road and developed areas in Caesarea, and therefore what remains should not be touched. The stated access road would be temporary - for the duration of the current prime minister's term - and even if it is needed for security reasons, we're certain there are ways to address this issue while still circumventing the reserve and avoiding causing irreversible harm to nature."
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