The Knesset today passed the Sde Dov bill proposed by MKs Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) and Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home Party) on its final reading. The bill was endorsed by 70 MKs.
The private member's bill made progress at a record pace, taking only two weeks to make it through all the required discussions. The bill approves continued operation of the Sde Dov civilian airport in Tel Aviv until the military airport is vacated in early 2019, even though a court ruled that the civilian airport would be vacated next month.
The bill states that as long as the Sde Dov Hoz airport is used for military takeoffs and landings, civilian aviation in it will continue. The civilian airport will be moved to a temporary terminal in the military part of the airport. The bill states that the state will begin transferring buildings immediately, and complete the transfer no later than December 1, 2017. The airport will continue to provide civil aviation service until the military airport is removed from Sde Dov in 2019. The bill also says that the state will provide compensation to the landowners for the use of the location for civil aviation. This compensation will be calculated according to the provisions of the Land (Acquisition for Public Purposes) Ordinance and the Acquisition for Public Purposes (Amendment of Provisions) Law.
"Thanks to great effort, we managed to enlist the entire Knesset at the last minute to remove the sword from the neck of Eilat and the outlying areas. I believe and hope that the landowners will eventually succeed in promoting the plans for the land, but the airport can be removed only when there is an alternative. Until then, the outlying areas cannot be destroyed for the sake of a luxury tower overlooking the sea in Tel Aviv," Shmuli said.
Smotrich added, "The Sde Dov Airport will remain until the military airport is vacated. During this time, the state must find a satisfactory alternative to the airport that will leave the air route open and constitute a permanent solution for residents of the outlying areas."
In contrast to the MKs celebrating the passage of the law, others were less satisfied. Adv. Dr. Michael Shpettler, one of the so-called "large lot" advocates, together with Advocates Moshe Lipka, Rachel Zaccai, and Eliahu Minkowicz, commented today on the passage of the law, saying, "The enactment of the Sde Dov law, which permits continued civilian activity after the end of April, is a crude violation of the state's promises. These promises were given legal validation by various courts, including the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice. Managers on behalf of the court for managing the area of the large lot are now about to cancel the agreements signed with the state, and to file a claim for retroactive user fees from 2000, a claim estimated at NIS 2.5 billion merely for the user fees. The eventual prices tag for violating the agreement between the managers and the state, a violation that culminated in the completion of this wanton legislation, will reach NIS 6.5 billion."
Shpettler added, "The first flight to take off from Sde Dov on May 1, the date of the violation of the High Court of Justice rulings and the agreements with the state, will be the most expensive flight in history, because it will cost the state NIS 6.5 billion. It may take time before judgment is rendered in this matter, but the righteousness of the landowners will eventually emerge. The Sde Dov Hoz Airport law passed by the Knesset today tramples the private property of 1,800 owners, violates the norms of proper public administration, ignores governmental commitments, agreements, and promises backed by legal rulings, and constitutes contempt of the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice. The law in effect expropriates the ownership, usage, and enjoyment rights of the landowners for an extended period, and tramples the rights of the owners of the large lot beneath the state's feet. Party political interests based on relations between wealth and government have combined and dictated anti-democratic legislation that violates property rights, while demonstrating ingratitude towards the private owners who a decade ago gave the state half of their construction rights as an incentive for the swift removal of Sde Dov."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 22, 2017
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