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New Israeli law to facilitate construction of beachfront hotels

Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin is promoting law to build new beachfront hotels, but environmental groups fear it will be exploited to construct luxury apartments.

20 Beaches in Tel Aviv (Photo: Israel Berdugo)
A law designed to facilitate the construction of hotels on beachfronts is being promoted by Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin, purportedly to alleviate the problem of Israel’s insufficient numbers of hotel rooms, but which environmental groups fear will be exploited to allow new luxury apartments to be built.

To encourage entrepreneurs to build new hotels, the government has approved the designation of 20 percent of hotel land for apartments.

The Knesset Interior Committee decided to put the proposed bill to a vote for its second and third reading on Monday.

Environmental organizations fear that the law will be exploited to revive building projects after the prohibition of building new apartments on beaches which was in place for several years. According the NGO Adam Teva V’din, which strives to use the power of law, science and advocacy to protect Israel’s environment and public health, there are already plans to build along the entirety of Israel’s coastline, from Nahariyah to Ashkelon.

Other environmental organizations say that the bill will enable hotel chains situated on Tel Aviv’s beaches to be transformed into residential homes for the wealthy. Even the project for the expansion of the Dan Acadia Hotel in Herzliya, which was denied by the courts, could once again go ahead and the hotel could partly become partly residential.

During the discussions which took place on Monday, MKs expressed several doubts regarding the bill.Yet when the vote took place, it received the full approval of the Knesset.

Responding to the development, the CEO of Adam Teva V’din, Amit Bracha, said, “This is a black day. While other nations around the world understand the need to increase the protection of beaches as inalienable assets, not only are we not enforcing existing protective laws, we are going systematically backwards with this ruthless legislation.”

Attacking the government, the NGO said, “The Israeli government, sponsored by the Knesset, continues to destroy the Israeli coast under the guise of ‘encouraging hotels.’ It is encouraging the building of residential homes for rich people. Unfortunately, the Israeli coasts are being sold to the highest bidder.

Levin responded to the NGO’s statements by stating, “The law maintains that planning authorities prevent uncontrolled construction on the coasts. It will generate an immediate revolution in the hotel industry, will bring about the creation of thousands of hotel rooms, and will finally reduce holiday prices in Israel. We will not permit the construction of hotels which will harm the coastal fronts, just as has been the case hitherto.”

By Amir Ben-David, Ynet News

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