The Union of Local Authorities (ULA) said yesterday it would petition the High Court of Justice against the government, Interior Minster Ophir Pines-Paz and the cellular companies because of the cabinet's failure Sunday to approve recommendations of the National Council for Planning and Construction regarding the location of new cellular antennas, and because of the financial damage which local authorities may incur "because of the government's incompetence in the matter."
The ULA said yesterday that the government will be asked to explain to the High Court why it will not cancel its decision at Sunday's cabinet meeting to create an interministerial committee of directors general to review various amendments to a national master plan for deploying cellphone antennas.
The ULA said the decision was "unjustified, and contradicts the positions of Attorney General Menahem Mazuz and the National Council for Planning and Construction."
The decision to petition the High Court is motivated by lawsuits the ULA faces from property owners as a result of the decline in the value of apartments situated near cellular antennas. ULA Chairman Adi Eldar said yesterday that the potential cost of damages from such lawsuits is estimated at NIS 2 billion, and that "the government of Israel is doing nothing to insure that the local authorities will not be liable to pay compensation of this scale."
According to the changes approved by the planning council, if residents complained that a cellular antenna had reduced the value of their property, the cellphone company in question would compensate them for 80 percent of their loss and their local authority would cover the remaining 20 percent. Moreover, local planning boards would be able to refuse the companies a permit to erect new antennas or demand they be built elsewhere. On Sunday, the cabinet decided to delay a decision on the amendments.
The public's fears about the health risk of cellular antennas were discussed yesterday by the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee during a tour of the Diplomat Hotel in Jerusalem, where 500 elderly immigrants from the CIS live. Committee chair MK Colette Avital (Labor) said that "many of the immigrants suffer from anxiety because of health concerns caused by the proximity of the cellular antennas."