Israeli environmentalists, neighbors blast plan for brand new city in Negev

Israel’s National Planning and Building Council authorized on Jan. 5 plans to determine a new Jewish neighborhood near the border with Gaza. The new locality — a combined secular and non secular village — has been given the placeholder identify Hanoun, after the river that flows close by. The challenge nonetheless wants authorities approval.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted, “Continuing to make history in the Negev. Congratulations to Sdot Negev Regional Council on the approval of the new ‘Hanoun’ locality that will accommodate 500 new families. [Israel’s first Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion’s vision is coming true before our very eyes, and is more relevant today than ever before. The establishment of the new locality not only goes in line with the needs of the housing market, but first and foremost fulfills the Zionist dream and strengthens the Gaza envelope region.”

In different interviews, Shaked made it clear she considers constructing new villages within the Negev and within the Golan Heights a excessive political and ideological precedence. Hanoun, she famous, is only one of a number of plans for communities within the Negev area she intends to advertise so as to assert the Jewish presence there. She has already superior the development of the city of Kasif, near the southern metropolis of Arad, and several other rural communities similar to Hiran and Yatir.

In a video that accompanied the tweet, head of the Sdot Negev Regional Council Tamir Idan is seen standing alongside Shaked the place the brand new locality is predicted to be constructed. “We are very excited. We have waited for this to happen many years. It’s a great victory over our enemies from the West. The terrorists will see us continuing to build. They will continue focusing on terror while we will continue focusing on construction,” says Idan. Shaked notes that many individuals need to come and stay within the area. The challenge was delays for a few years, she explains, including, “I’m hoping that within two years we will manage to build this new locality in Israel.”

In November 2020, the federal government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized a proposal to research the chance of building the neighborhood of Hanoun. He instructed the Housing Ministry to arrange a plan in coordination with the ministries of transportation and agriculture. The Finance Ministry was instructed to allocate the funds for the feasibility research. Still, with the political turmoil in Israel over the previous two years, together with 4 elections, the plan was by no means finalized.

The Gaza envelope within the south of Israel encompasses all of the localities out to seven kilometers from the Israel-Gaza border fence. There are some 60 such localities, together with the city of Sderot and dozens of villages and kibbutzim. The cities of Netivot and Ashkelon are positioned adjoining to the border. Israel considers the Gaza envelope a area beneath safety menace, which implies that individuals living there are entitled to some fiscal advantages. Over the years, these cities, villages and kibbutzim have vastly suffered from hostilities coming from the Gaza Strip, together with 1000’s of rockets, fires instigated by incendiary balloons and assaults by Palestinian assailants. Many of the residents have complained over time of dire psychological well being implications for his or her kids living consistently beneath rocket fireplace.

While the choice to determine a brand new neighborhood within the area was hailed by a number of cupboard ministers, not everybody in Israel is comfortable about it. One group that opposes the challenge is the municipality of neighboring Netivot, a city that has lengthy suffered from a scarcity of funding in improvement and has lengthy been thought of one among Israel’s poorest localities. In 2017, Netivot signed an settlement with the State of Israel permitting the institution of recent neighborhoods with some 13,000 new housing models. The municipality now fears {that a} new village so close by will undermine Netivot’s efforts to draw new households.

In a letter addressing the National Planning and Building Council final December, Netivot Mayor Yehiel Zohar wrote, “Netivot will be the main victim of the establishment of the new locality, which is planned only a kilometer and a half from the city’s border. The new locality will include mostly ground-level construction at a very low density and is intended, as the writers of the plans themselves claim, for an affluent population. This would generate direct and unfair competition for Netivot, which already suffers from spillover and delocalization of economically stronger populations to the many rural localities that surround it.”

Green teams, together with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel — SPNI, the nation’s main environmentalist group — additionally oppose the Hanoun plan, which they level out would carry building, new roads and far more air pollution. They warn in opposition to the destruction of distinctive desert ecosystems.

The SPNI instructed Al-Monitor, “With grounds not always easy to build on, vigorous population growth and especially a culture of wasteful land use, Israel suffers from a severe land shortage. For these reasons, Israel is soon going to be the most densely populated country in the West. Therefore, there is absolutely no logic — not on the planning level, not economically, not socially and not environmentally — in the planning of new communities. On all these levels, … [developing] existing localities should clearly and unequivocally be a priority over the establishment of new ones. Initiatives for new localities will only damage the continuity of open spaces, and consequently threaten the habitats of wildlife and flora” with each the development and the extra infrastructure.

The SPNI additional argued that this choice for strengthening present localities over establishing new ones is anchored in Israel’s acknowledged nationwide planning coverage. The group made it clear its stance is unrelated to the id of the locality or the inhabitants anticipated to stay in it. Rather, it mentioned, “opposition to the establishment of a new locality is principled and rational, without any other consideration, apart from the professional consideration and the desire to concentrate development into limited areas.”

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