Galilee Airport Plan Doesn’t Fly With Residents

View of Israel's Lower Galilee. April 25, 2015. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** éùøàì öôåï âìéì úçúåï
View of Israel’s Lower Galilee. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A new airport will be built in the Galilee, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised Tuesday at the annual Galilee Conference. The new airport will be an alternative to Ben Gurion Airport, which is expected to reach its capacity for flights in the coming years.

Sound like a welcome economic boost for the region? Actually, not everyone is enamored of the idea. Residents of the region who would have to live alongside the new airport, are vehemently opposed. They plan to fight it, starting with a petition to the High Court, which they intend to file soon.

“We will build a new airport here in Ramat David,” Netanyahu declared. Ramat David is in the Jezre’el Valley, close to where the conference was held, in the lower Galilee city of Afula. Officials said that alternate site in the upper Galilee, near Tzefas, is being considered as well.

The idea of an airport in the north of the country has been bruited about for some 20 years, with plans drawn up and committees appointed to determine the idea’s feasibility. However, each time the residents of the sites where the airport was to be built opposed the plans, the government backed down.  It was back in 2014 that the government originally decided on Ramat David as the final location for the airport. In response, local residents began a series of protests and petitions against the site’s selection.

According to opponents of the newly revived plan, building an airport at the site will ruin their quality of life, and cause major ecological damage. In a statement issued Tuesday, Jezre’el Valley Regional Authority head Eyal Betzer said that to his knowledge, no plans have been approved for the airport by any regulatory body, and in any event, his office would oppose the plan at every turn.