Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90
Prime minister Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Cabinet today voted to establish a steering committee to explore the technological feasibility of constructing artificial islands off the coast of Israel.

A statement released by the Prime Minister said that the islands would be created for infrastructure purposes, namely “an airport, seawater desalination plants, and power stations.”

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Israel, which is approximately the size of the state of New Jersey, is also a very densely populated country – with an average of 982 people per square mile (for comparison, the population density of the US is 83 people per square mile). Thus, it is grappling with a shortage of space and questions of how to mitigate it.

“Our state is small and crowded,” the Prime Minister said. “Therefore, the idea of artificial islands has spatial, economic and security logic for us. It is also of value regarding environmental protection. There is no doubt that this entails many opportunities for the State of Israel.”

According to the statement, the committee will present its conclusions and recommendations to the prime minister within a year.

The idea has been floated in the past, most recently in March 2011 by Transport Minister and Likud MK Yisrael Katz, who sought to build the islands off the coast of Gaza as a long-term alternative to the blockade of the Hamas-run territory.

At the time, Katz said he had discussed the idea with the Prime Minister and got the go-ahead to forge a plan. “We have built models and there are many entrepreneurs who are interested and prepared to invest billions and make money,” Katz told Army Radio. Environmentalists were critical of the idea, saying it would take an unforeseen environmental toll on the coast of Israel and Gaza.

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