Land and Space

Expert opinion prepared by Arch. Dan Stav, former deputy director for planning and development at the Israel Land Authority

Past developments: Land was considered a national resource, to be used by the state in pursuit of its objectives, foremost of which was establishing  governance over land reserves . Land was allocated for use in a process that effectively transferred “ownership” of the land to a status comparable to private ownership. Privately owned lands were compulsorily purchased for the purposes of marketable and public purposes. Following a change in public priorities, reflected in a multitude of legal suits, the compulsory purchase of land has been reduced and is used only for public purposes, primarily infrastructures.


Current trends: Today land is perceived more as a means of production and less as a resource for the achievement of national objectives. At the same time, its price does not include external costs such as payment for infrastructures or environmental damage. The lack of full pricing of land facilitates a trend towards the expansion of built-up areas at the expense of open spaces and does not facilitate the renewal of existing urban areas.


“Business as usual” scenario: Land will serve as an economic asset that emables short-term solutions to economic and social problems. A preference for the expansion of built-up areas can therefore be expected, at the expense of more efficient use of  land , and with a resulting loss of open space. Urban renewal will occur only when it is considered “economical.” In the absence of urban renewal, residential development, commercial , and industrial activities will move out from the cities.


Recommendations for the future:

A scenario for reducing the rate of expansion of the built up area  – a scenario for preserving and protecting open space:

This scenario would entail formation of an integrated network combining transportation – public transportation in particular – with business and employment, in the form of a central column stretching from Naharia to Be’er Sheva, with extensions and sub-circuits. This network would constitute a skeleton for a nationwide municipal network – a singular national metropolis. 

  1. Constraining the spread of development entails strengthening cities and urban life, implementing urban renewal projects from an inclusive national perspective, and implementing measures to restrict urban sprawl;
  2. Housing that is accessible to large population groups will be constructed using new and specialized methods and systems;
  3. Preparations will be undertaken for the possibility of future waves of immigration or ingathering, with an emphasis on urban absorption;
  4. Use of underground space will be increased, among other means by changing ownership rights of underground space;
  5. The rate of expansion of built-up areas will be reduced to 0.1%-0.5%


The scenario for reducing the rate of expansion can be combined with other scenarios:


  1. A scenario for reducing the allocation of land for infrastructures, under which:

    1. Infrastructures will pay for their use of land,

    2. Integration of infrastructures will be encouraged, including tunnels within cities and corridors between cities.

  2. A scenario for preservation and development, under which:

    1. Preservation of open spaces will not be based on the past model of a division between conservation and development, but on  models which integrate conservation and development biosphere reserves.

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