Israel is poised to become the most populous Western country in the world by 2050, veteran environmental activist and MK Alon Tal told the Knesset on Monday.
Tal presented statistics from a report prepared by an environmental group called "Zafuf: The Forum for Population, Environment and Society," indicating that by 2050, the country's population could reach more than 17.5 million, compared to more than 9 million today.
"The State of Israel will become the most populous Western country, with more than 800 people per square kilometer," Tal said.
"We know the reality and know that protecting open space is not enough. I want to know what the Israeli Planning Administration and the Construction and Housing Ministry are doing to translate their statements into reality," he added.
"Open or green space is disappearing at a staggering rate of 24 square kilometers (around 9 square miles) per year, and the pace will accelerate with population growth," warned Tal.
Member of Knesset (Labor) Ram shefa, said this was an existential crisis. "We are young people who are worried about what will happen here in 30 years," he said
"The media does not understand the gravity of the situation. Instead of overpopulating the cities, people are taking over the agricultural green spaces. Our job is to raise awareness and influence legislation so that the Department of Environmental Protection can make the necessary changes," he said.
Dr. Ana Trakhtenbrot, who heads the biodiversity section at the Environmental Protection Ministry, said her ministry's vision is for every municipality to survey which urban natural areas under its jurisdiction it should maintain and preserve.