Israel to Ban Construction Near Shoreline

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay announces construction will no longer be permitted within 100 meters of waterline along coasts.

Tomer Appelbaum

Construction will no longer be permitted within 100 meters of the waterline along the nation’s coasts, Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay announced Wednesday, saying he and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon had come to an agreement on the issue.

Over the past two weeks, the Planning Administration in the Finance Ministry had been working on a national master plan for the shoreline that would have allowed considerable construction of stores, restaurants, and cafes within that range. Environmental organizations vehemently condemned the plan and said they would launch a public campaign to stop it.

Gabbay made his announcement after a meeting with the head of the Planning Administration, Binat Schwartz. According to the Environment Ministry, Schwartz claimed during the meeting that the construction plan was just a preliminary proposal. But the agenda of a subcommittee of the National Planning and Construction Council shows that the subcommittee was planning to discuss the plan next week and advanced it to the first stage of approval.

Recently, Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant also asked Planning Administration officials to cancel all plans that would allow construction near the waterline.

It isn’t clear what will happen to other proposals included in the new master plan, particularly the cancellation of the relative protection given areas set back from the beaches that exists in the prevailing master plan. These include areas zoned as public or agricultural areas that until now were not intended for construction. Earlier this week, the Environment Ministry had warned that the master plan for the coast would lead to massive building along the shoreline, and castigated the Finance Ministry for expediting the plan.

Gabbay and Schwartz agreed that Planning Administration and Environment Ministry teams would try to come to an agreement on a new version of the master plan.