Plans to move Sde Dov airport from north Tel Aviv to free up land for housing will be expedited, according to a proposal to be submitted to the cabinet on Sunday.
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According to a statement issued yesterday, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias are to propose the establishment of an interministerial committee to decide on moving the civilian part of the airport, which also has a military section, by no later than December 31, 2018.
The rest of the airport is to be moved in keeping with a timetable determined by the committee.
The airport's area is about 375 acres, of which about 200 acres are used by the military. The land, along the sea in posh north Tel Aviv, sits over some the country's most expensive real estate.
According to the statement, some 12,000 housing units can be built in the area now occupied by the airport, "which will ease the housing shortage that now exists in Tel Aviv, especially for young people."
The committee, to be established by the end of this month, will be headed by the director general of the Prime Minister's Office and its members will include the directors general of the Transportation Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Israel Lands Administration and the budgets director from the Finance Ministry.
One of the panel's first orders of business will be to find an alternative site for the airport and all its functions, the statement said.
One alternatives that has been proposed in the past is to build the new airport on an artificial island to be constructed off the Tel Aviv shoreline.
The Finance Ministry has been asked to submit its recommendations to the committee based on the costs to all agencies and ministries, making sure the move is kept economically feasible.
The committee is to present its recommendations to the government by the end of the year.
A year ago, Katz and Atias, in coordination with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, decided to establish a joint committee to study the implications of moving the airport.
The committee examined the military and civilian uses to which the airport is put, as well as transportation infrastructure, current ownership of the land where the airport is now located, and the possibility of compensating owners of that land. It also decided to ask the Israel Lands Administration to move ahead, together with the Tel Aviv Municipality, on planning apartments over the land, which will also include lower-income housing for young people and families.
"Along with the many advantages to ceasing the airport's operations, the removal of Sde Dov airport will release valuable land for the construction of thousands of housing units in one of the most high-demand areas in Tel Aviv," the ministerial statement read.
Meanwhile, an initiative promoting the offshore alternative for Ben-Gurion International Airport was launched yesterday by an international consortium of engineers and architects including international experts in aviation and airport construction, and the heads of the communities around Ben Gurion International Airport. According to Israel Gudovitz, former Tel Aviv municipal engineer and one of the planners of the project, the group would like to "build an international airport on a new island at sea. It would be a floating island and not filled with soil."
Guduvitz said moving Ben Gurion airport would free up land for the construction of 500,000 housing units.