Industrial zone for ultra-Orthodox women violates national master plans (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Revital Hovel 06/05/12)
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A planned industrial zone in Rechasim earmarked mainly for the
employment of ultra-Orthodox women is being promoted by the Interior
Ministry, despite the fact that it would violate both regional and
national master plans, and despite objections from other ministries.
Rechasim, a Haredi town near Haifa, hopes construction of an
industrial zone will increase its tax revenue. The project is slated
to cover 150 dunams, of which 60 percent is state land and 40 percent
is privately owned.
But the national master plan says the area in question is zoned to
combine "the values of nature, agriculture, landscape, settlement and
heritage, while creating a green spine running north to south and
open areas along the main riverbeds."
The Haifa region master plan defines the area similarly,
as "agricultural - open rural landscape." It specifically states that
no new industrial zones should be created in it. Instead, the plan
calls for existing zones to be expanded. Moreover, the national plan
for forests zones part of the area as forest, while the plan for
national parks and nature reserves defines part of the land through
which the site´s access road would run as a nature reserve.
Still, the Haifa district planning committee tentatively approved
construction of the zone at a recent meeting, disregarding objections
from the Ministries of Environmental Planning, Transportation,
Justice and Health. The committee has heard comments from the public,
and must now decide whether to give the plan the final go-ahead.
The matter was brought before the National Planning and Building
Council two years ago, because by law, it had to be discussed by that
council before the regional committee met about it - since it
violates the master plans. At that time, director of the Interior
Ministry´s Haifa office, Yosef Mishlav, told the council that
Rechasim is collapsing from both an economic and social standpoint,
and needs additional sources of jobs and industry. Mishlav even made
the unusual decision to appear in person to argue for it; other
Interior Ministry officials expressed surprise that Mishlav was
working so hard to promote a plan that violates existing master plans.
Rechasim Mayor Dan Cohen told Haaretz that while there is plenty of
industry nearby, in Haifa, the krayot and Yokne´am, for example,
Rechasim´s Haredi women would not go out to work in the non-Haredi
sector, for religious reasons. Thus, he said, "I think it´s necessary
to develop places of work for this population."
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the new industrial
zone is meant to serve two towns: Rechasim and the Bedouin town of
Ibtin. Both are "in serious economic straits and have no sources of
income," it said.
While there are other industrial zones nearby, the statement added,
they provide no income to Rechasim and Ibtin, as they belong to other
towns - which, "needless to say," aren´t interested in sharing. "This
industrial zone will supply work to all residents of the area, of all
nationalities and genders, including Haredi women from Rechasim." (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 06/05/12)
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