The Ministerial Law Committee is set to discuss a proposed law signed by 81 MKs that would postpone the closure of the Sdeh Dov airfield for at least two and a half years. The law would allow civilian flights to continue using the airport, although the military airfield at the site would be closed down beginning in 2017.
The measure was signed by MKs from all parties. If the government does not approve it, several MKs said they would sponsor it as a private bill, which would apparently be able to pass into law without any problem.
Sdeh Dov, located in north Tel Aviv, is used mostly for flights to and from Eilat. The decision to close the airfield was made several years ago, after the expansion of Ben Gurion Airport, with all flights now using Sdeh Dov shifted to the Ben Gurion airport. Residents of the area, who are annoyed with the noise, and real estate developers who want to develop the land for housing, successfully petitioned the High Court, which ruled that the field should be shut down by 2017. The proposed law seeks to defy the court.
According to the Israel Lands Administration and the Housing Ministry, the 780 dunams of open space at the airport (currently used as runways and parking areas for planes) will be able to support construction of some 16,000 homes. Opposed to the evacuation of the site are Arkia Airlines and Israir, which currently use the airport. Sdeh Dov charges considerably less per flight than Ben Gurion Airport, and the companies are concerned that profits will be affected. Also opposed are the Tel Aviv and Eilat municipalities, the former because of the inconvenience that city residents who use the airport will experience, and the latter who fear that the loss of a convenient airfield will reduce tourism from the center of the country.