There is no reason to keep Sde Dov – not even for limited operation

After decades of battle over the land, it is essential to move forward on planning • Opinion

19.06.2019 | Miriam Donin-Shoob

Whether this is another attempt to delay the inevitable or a genuine offer, we do not believe it is appropriate to allow Sde Dov to continue to operate in a limited format until construction begins. Demagoguery, in the form of “one benefits, while the other loses nothing” is simply untrue, since the main “beneficiaries” serve their own business interests whereas those “who lose nothing” do in fact lose.

Those who insist on promoting the move, should bear in mind that the commercial-civil use currently made of the airport area is done without payment of usage fees. Anyone who wishes to make use of the land of others should, with all due respect, seek consent from the thousands of owners for the use of their land – and pay them.

There is today no national need for the existence of the airport in Tel Aviv and I find it difficult to understand why of all people the mayor should intervene in the matter, opposing the position of all the professional bodies who for decades have worked hard on solutions, compromises and operative plans, and going against the rulings of the High Court of Justice (and contrary to national and urban housing interests). The voices of all the hoteliers, politicians and other vocal opponents to closure of the airport fell silent, when the airport was moved away from Eilat municipality land to the Timna area.

The date of evacuation was set a long time ago. The alternative is already in place and passengers report on the efficiency of the flight to Eilat from Ben-Gurion Airport (in fact, passenger complaints focus on the process of reaching Eilat from its new airport), so there is no reason to continue using the Sde Dov Airport.

Moreover, the presence of the airport casts a long shadow over all the existing neighborhoods and others to be built, since additional plans for the area are dependent on the airport’s evacuation. One such scheme – the Pi Glilot plan, which calls for the construction of an additional 10,000 units, is conditional on the airport’s removal.

Since the site’s development is a complex issue, it is important for the airport to shut down in keeping with the timetables to which the government committed itself under the High Court of Justice rulings, and in accordance with the plans and recommendations of all the professional entities. Moreover, it is important and appropriate to correctly promote the zoning of the site in order to facilitate execution of the construction plans within a reasonable timeframe.

After 40 years of ‘wandering in the desert’, it is worth preventing any further troubles. The thousands of private landowners who have held this land for decades and been presented as “speculators” or “real estate sharks” so as to diminish their legitimacy, need to make their voices heard. All the landowners – small and large alike, should form alliances on common ground so that the private interests will become a great force that is able to truly look after these interests.

This action is necessary so that the private landowners will be able to stand together in the face of business and political entities, connections and appliers of pressure, while also, and no less importantly, making the most of their share in the lot (small and large ones alike). While rights may not vanish, people could find themselves sharing a lot with others who have no commitment to them and, in consequence, they could become involved in exhausting dissolution of co-ownership proceedings that may undermine the realization of their rights.

The writer is a partner in law firm Hamburger Evron & Co. and since 1980 has represented hundreds of landowners in Sde Dov. In addition, the writer owns land on the Sde Dov site.