Cabinet Wrestles With Decision on Palmahim Beach Project

The cabinet yesterday considered asking a planning and building committee to reconsider its approval of a plan to put up a resort on Palmahim Beach, but postponed a vote on the motion until next week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Eli Yishai both expressed concern about adopting Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan's proposal. Netanyahu said he feared it would require the state to make large compensation payments to the project's developers, who have already invested money both to win an Israel Lands Administration tender for the site and to plan the village.

Yishai worried that a government request to a planning and building committee to reverse its decision would undermine the independence of these committees.

Palmahim Beach
Alon Ron

As a result, the cabinet agreed that Erdan should draft a new resolution that would address these concerns.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein stressed that even if no procedural flaws marred the allocation of the land and subsequent approval of the developers' plans, there is no legal barrier to the government asking the planning and building committee to reconsider its decision, or to the committee doing so of its own initiative.

Moreover, he said, Erdan's resolution would not actually overturn the Central District Planning and Building Committee's decision; it merely asks the committee to revisit it, with due attention to the public interest in preserving the landscape. Any such review would also enable the entrepreneurs to voice their arguments against changing the decision.

Erdan said he would continue lobbying ministers to support his resolution. His ministry would prefer to see the beach developed as a public area.