Panel to Decide on Future of Palmahim Beach Resort

A campaign by group of young people from the area against planned resort village led the Environmental Protection Minister to submit the resort to a cabinet vote.

The fate of Palmahim Beach could be determined on Monday in a Central District Planning and Building Committee session.

The panel must decide whether to continue the routine zoning procedure for a controversial shoreline resort project, or to accept a cabinet recommendation to reexamine the plan.

A public campaign by a group of young people from the area against the planned resort village led the State Comptroller's Office to review the authorization process for the project and eventually led Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan to submit the resort to a cabinet vote.

The cabinet sent the plan back to the district zoning board for review, instructing the committee to consider the Coastal Environment Preservation Law and the State Comptroller's report, which recommended the cancellation of the controversial project.

The Coastal Environment Protection Law, which came into effect only after the construction plan was confirmed, imposes strict limitations on construction within 300 meters of the water line. The resort is set to occupy nearly two acres of land and be within 100 meters of the water.

The developers argued that the project will not damage the shoreline and will preserve free public access to the beach and demanded that the authorization process be allowed to go forward.

The district planning and building committee is not required to accept the cabinet's recommendation in such cases.

"Over the past year, many organizations and public figures have pointed out irregularities in in the sale of Palmahim Beach to real estate developers, from the State Comptroller to environmental organizations," said Adi Lustig, one of the leaders of the anti-resort campaign.

"We hope the members of the district committee will be sufficiently courageous today to resolve to restore the beach to its true owners - the public," Lustig added.