Gov’t-Sponsored Bill to Give Nat’l Infrastructure Status to Hotels

A controversial bill which will give privately owned hotels “national infrastructure status” was approved Wednesday, June 8, by the Knesset’s Interior Committee and will now head for its first reading in the Knesset plenum. The bill, which is being spearheaded by the Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin (Likud), aims to simplify the approval of permits to build hotels in order to “lower hotel prices.”

"The pirates are coming!" - Demonstration against the robbery of the coasts

“The pirates are coming!” – Demonstration against the robbery of the coasts (Photo: Megama Yeruka)

If the “Levin Bill” is enacted as law, approval for the building of new hotels will go through the Finance Ministry’s National Planning and Building Committee instead of the Finance Minister. Furthermore, it will permit new and existing hotels to allocate 20% of their property as private housing units. Consequently, it is feared, the new legislation will cause a proliferation of many additional hotels along the country’s beaches and prime coastal real estate.

Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) submitted revisions to the plan that would prohibit the allocation of private housing. However, his revisions were ultimately rejected by committee members. Khenin called the legislation “one of the most dangerous laws that ever made it to the Knesset,” adding that it is an affront to democracy. “This bill sets a precedent for a private business to become national infrastructure,” he said.

Activist Elad Hochman, from the student environmental movement Megama Yeruka (Green Course), was ejected by Knesset guards from the Wednesday’s Interior Committee meeting after an exchange of words became particularly heated. As he was being carried out, Hochman cried out: “I’m calling upon you Members of the Knesset and asking you not to vote for this bill because it endangers our beaches.” On the group’s Facebook page, they have posted a video with an ominous message: “Say goodbye to the beach as you know it.” A demonstration against the bill will be held next Monday, June 13, outside the Knesset in Jerusalem.