Israel’s High Population Density is Source of Concern to Planners

Israel has one of the highest population densities in the world, an Israeli expert on the subject told an international gathering of urban planners here.

In fact, the area of Israel north of the Negev is more densely populated than Holland or Japan, Professor Adam Mazor of the Israel Institute of Technology- Technion in Haifa told the International Federation for Housing and Planning.

The federation was wrapping up its 41st world congress, a weeklong event that convened this year in Jerusalem.

Mazor said that more than 90 percent of Israel’s population lives on 40 percent of the country’s land. As a result, the country’s remaining open space may be overwhelmed in the near future by rapid population growth.

Mazor heads an interdisciplinary team that is drawing up a physical plan for the country for the year 2020.

But Arye Nesher, a demographic and physical planner, warned that Mazor’s team may have nothing left to plan, because of the extraordinary development inspired by the prospect of mass immigration from the former Soviet Union.

Nesher noted that a joint planning commission, set up two years ago to advance the planning-approval process from between one and two years to between 40 and 50 days, has already approved some 400,000 dwelling units. And the majority of these have not yet been built, he said.

Mazor said that “in the last 20 years alone, the housing stock has been doubled. In the next 30 years, it will be tripled.”

Nesher warned, “If we continue this way, in two or three years it will be too late for planning.”

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