Building Panel Torpedoes Palmahim Beach Resort Plan

Seafront resort was to include hundreds of guest rooms; environmental groups argued that this would severely limit access to the open beach.

A government proposal to shelve a planned resort on Palmahim Beach received backing yesterday when the Central District Planning and Building Committee decided that a new development plan, without a resort, was necessary for the area.

The seafront resort was to include hundreds of guest rooms and various other facilities. Environmental groups argued that this would severely limit access to the open beach.

The government proposed that plans be redrawn to keep the area open to the public, in essence doing away with the resort.

The entrepreneurs behind the resort initiative may require compensation for their investment in the project. Alternatively, they may be offered a different location for the resort, which they may reject, or which may face similar environmental hurdles.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Parks Authority are expected to propose a new plan in the coming days, which will aim to transform the area into a national park.

"This is a huge victory for nature and the quality of life of the citizens," Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said yesterday. "The decision of the Planning and Building Committee is historic in favoring the broader public interest, and corrects the errors of the past which were made at the expense of the public."

Erdan ordered his staff to prepare a bill which would also thwart a planned resort on Betzet Beach north of Nahariya in the Galilee.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss also expressed satisfaction with the decision. More than a year ago the comptroller published a report critical of the process of authorizing the resort on Palmahim Beach, noting that public and environmental interests were not taken into account.