Cabinet Delays Vote on Resort Plan for Palmahim Beach

Netanyahu expresses concerns over compensations for contractors if authorization withdrawn.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet decided Sunday to postpone its vote regarding plans to build a resort on the Palmahim Beach south of Rishon Letzion.

Palmahim Beach.
Moti Milrod

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who has opposed the plan from the beginning, proposed that the cabinet halt the plans once and for all. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced concerns regarding the possible compensation the government would have to pay the contractors if indeed the authorization was withdrawn.

Minister of Interior affairs Eli Yishai said that canceling the plan could set precedent for the cancellation of previously authorized building plans.

A public fight has been underway for two years, spearheaded by activist Adi Lustig, against the plan for the 100-room resort, to be built by developers who won a tender for the project from the Israel Lands Administration.

The plan to build a resort with over 300 suits, has made it through various levels of the authorization process, but before it could be passed in the District Planning and Building Committee, local activists began fighting it because of the damage they say it would do to one of the last remaining unspoiled beaches in the center of the country.

After the campaign was launched, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss declared that the authorization process was flawed. He found that government bodies who supported the plan had ignored changes in the law mandating stricter preservation of beaches prohibiting construction of any kind.

According to Erdan's proposal, the cabinet, which is also the country's supreme planning institution, would rezone the land to exclude recreation and tourism facilities. However, it is unclear what validity the decision would have, since planning institutions are permitted to use their discretion on such matters. Another question involves how to compensate the developers, a task that might fall to the ILA.