Transportation Ministry Sinks Mobile Dock Idea on Lake Kinneret

The Transportation Ministry has announced its opposition to an bid by the Kinneret Association of Municipalities to establish a new dock on Lake Kinneret that would serve boats involved in monitoring the lake to prevent pollution.

In the six months since Haaretz first reported on the association's request, the committee for the protection of the coastal environment, a body associated with the National Planning and Building Council, instructed the Kinneret association to reconsider its request and presented several conditions such as a preference for an existing dock and ensuring that no damage be done to beaches and public areas. The association intends to resubmit its request.

The Kinneret association wants to build the dock on the northern part of Zinabri Beach near the community of Kinneret on the west side of the lake, south of Tiberias. The request also includes the placement of mobile structures and a shade structure.

Among its reasons for choosing this location, the request notes its proximity to Tiberias, which is the main potential source of pollution and its proximity to the offices of the Drainage Authority and the Kinneret Administration, located at Tzemach.

However, the beach in question is zoned for recreation, and only structures associated with leisure-time activities may be placed there.

Sources at the Transportation Ministry told Haaretz the ministry opposed setting up a private landing for monitoring boats, and that it had not been involved in the approval process at the local planning and building committee. The ministry said: "The Shipping and Ports Authority believes there are many docks, landings, and piers around the lake that meet all boating needs. Moreover, such a monitoring boat does not need a dock. It can be hoisted out of the water by a crane or a wagon onto a landing area. A pier, dock or landing can be located that suits the needs of the monitoring boat, in coordination with the Tiberas port."

The Society for the Protection of Nature said: "Dealing with water pollution is indeed important, but we believe preference must be given to expansion of existing docks rather than the establishment of new ones."

Also opposed to the move is MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), who together with MK Ophir Pines (Labor) spearheaded the establishment the Association of Kinneret Municipalities to look after the public's interest in the area. Khenin, who is head of the Knesset's environmental-social caucus, said the move "calls into question whether the association is an environmental association that cares for the Kinneret for the people of Israel or a narrow-minded, technical-business entity."

The Kinneret Drainage Authority, the Kinneret Administration and the Association of Kinneret Municipalities said the association had "examined, with experts, all existing possibilities on the Kinneret shore and found that a small portion of the northern part of the Zinabri Beach is the most suitable. It is a question of about 40 meters of beachfront where a floating pier will be built that will also serve the police. It will give the public access to a 150-meter portion of the beach on the banks of the Jordan River that is now occupied by a police station."

The statement also said the site would be built in such a a way to allow free public passage among the various sections of the Zinabri beach, and would not hinder beach activities. A floating pier is a much more suitable ecological solution than a massive pier that damages the flow of water along the beach, and this does ecological harm to the lake, the statement said.

The association also said there are no special or protected elements of nature on Zinabri Beach.

The intention is not to take anything away from the public; on the contrary, the entire purpose of the plan is to augment public welfare and safety, the statement said.

The association noted the pier was movable and the structures temporary. "If years pass and the policy changes regarding the level of the Kinneret and the State of Israel brings about a situation in which the levels are not as severely low as they have been for recent years, it will be possible, according to this end-of-days scenario, if necessary, to move the pier to another existing point. We all hope this will happen. These hopes are essential, but recognizing the needs of reality are the obligation of those in charge of this subject."