Some 300,000 Israelis live close enough to Ben Gurion airport to be affected by the loud noises and pollution involved in operating an airport – and with the airport now operating 24 hours a day, residents have complained of many sleepless nights. For the first time, the Interior Ministry is developing a plan to compensate these residents, a report on Channel Two said – and in response, the Airport Workers’ Committee has threatened to go on strike.
The plan entails charging the Airports Authority a property tax (arnona) on the airport grounds; currently, no taxes are levied on the airport. The Ministry hopes to raise some NIS 200 million ($56.6 million) from property tax that it will levy, with the money to be used to compensate residents.
The amount of money residents in each town will get will be based on their location, distance to the airport, whether an air route goes right over their town, etc.
Among the towns where residents can expect a refund are Lod, Or Yehuda, Yehud, Ramle, Elad, Be’er Yaakov, Azor, Shoham, Kfar Chabad and others. Interior Ministry Rabbi Aryeh Deri has already empaneled a group to develop standards for the tax, and for distributing the money, the report said. The Interior Ministry told Channel Two that it had no comment on the report.
Commenting on the report, the Airports Authority told Channel Two that “just two years ago the High Court dismissed claims of excessive noise at Ben Gurion airport. We see this as nothing more than ‘electoral bribes’ to be paid to residents by the heads of towns in the area, who are set to be up for election in the coming months. We have not heard about any panels in which this is being discussed, and we are not equipped to deal with such secret panels.”
The report quoted an angry letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu by Pinchas Idan, head of the Airport Workers Committee, who said that “we will not allow the airport to be turned into a ‘cash cow.’ We see the attempts to create new facts as a violation of our work agreements. We intend to fight this, and will undertake all the actions within our power to do so.”