Future Generations Need Accessible Beaches, Not ‘Yacht Parking Lots’

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The area where the Marina in Nahariya is expected to be built, on Tuesday.
The area where the Marina in Nahariya is expected to be built, on Tuesday. Credit: Fadi Amun

The refusal Tuesday of a subcommittee of the National Planning and Building Council to approve the construction of five new marinas is an important step toward protecting Israel’s Mediterranean coastline as a resource for the use of the entire public.

The decision expresses the right balance, which gives decisive weight to the needs of the majority of Israelis, who want as much beach area as possible at their disposal, rather than to a much smaller group of people who need berths for their privately owned boats.

The decision leaves room for the pursuit of marine sports and education, which have immense importance. All this can be achieved by expanding existing marinas and possibly by using available space in the country’s ports.

The mayors of all the coastal cities in which new marinas were proposed expressed enthusiastic support for the plan. This shows that they preferred economic interests, based on anticipated revenue from tourism, and ignored the great damage to the coast caused by the construction of existing marinas in Herzliya and Ashkelon.

More gravely, these mayors ignored the public’s vital need for open, accessible beaches and for views of the sea that are not occluded by breakwaters or concrete buildings. Even if marinas can generate revenue for local governments – and this has not yet been proved – there is no justification for appropriating coastal areas for the benefit of the few over the many.

The argument touted by the mayors, according to which these marinas would become thriving urban centers, only attests to their failure to develop such bustling centers up to now on their beaches, in cities like Hadera, Netanya, Haifa, Bat Yam and Nahariya.

The subcommittee’s recommendation to approve one marina, in Nahariya, should be amended as well. One may hope that this idea will be shelved when it comes up for discussion by the national zoning board. The residents of Nahariya and its environs also deserve an open coastal area connected to nature, not a “parking lot for yachts,” in the words of Dalit Zilber, the director general of Israel’s Planning Administration.

Israel's beaches also need protection from Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is apparently intent on supporting the building of a marina in Netanya. According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, such a facility would cause severe damage to adjacent beaches due to its impact on the movement of sand in the water.

One may hope that the representatives of the Planning Administration at the National Planning and Building Council will not yield to pressure in this matter and will vote in accordance with professional considerations, which so far have led them to oppose most of the proposed marinas.

Such a measure will protect future generations who will live in a much more densely crowded country, in which some beaches may disappear due to rising water levels caused by climate change. They will not forgive those who robbed them of such a precious asset.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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