Shin Bet May Build Private Road for Netanyahu Through Nature Reserve

Environmental advocates claim shortcut from Prime Minister's Jerusalem residence to his Caesarea home would cause irreversible ecological damage.

The Shin Bet security service is considering building a road through a nature reserve to connect Prime Minister Netanyahu's Caesarea house to the Route 2 coastal highway, one of the country's major traffic arteries.

The Shin Bet has clarified that the plan, if carried out, would be legal, but environmental advocates point out that the nature reserve's sand dunes are some of the last of their kind, and that building would cause major ecological damage.

dunes - Itzik Ben-Malki - November 23 2010
Itzik Ben-Malki

The Society for the Protection of Nature says that even if the road is required for security reasons, an alternate route should be found because the damage would be irreversible.

Security officials approached the Israel Nature and Parks Authority earlier this week to request a response to its proposal, which would save the from having to impede residential traffic in Caesarea when Netanyahu arrives and leaves.

Properties in the city of Caesarea are especially expensive. It is still unclear whether the proposed road would be open for the use of Caesarea's residents when Netanyahu is away, or whether it would be for the exclusive use of the prime minister and his guests.

The nature reserve is considered one of the last remaining habitats of its kind in the center of the country. Part of the reserve has already been fouled by turning its northern border into a large sand bank in order to separate Caesarea from the neighboring Arab village of Jisr al-Zarqa.

Most of the sand dunes in the area have been gobbled up over the years by residential development. Environmental advocates fear that any more construction would irrevocably harm the rich communities of flora and fauna that call the dunes their home.