After 81 years: Sde Dov Airport in Tel Aviv is Shut Down
Despite objections and protests, Netanyahu announced that the evacuation of Sde Dov will go through, saving the state coffers billions of shekels.
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At the end of a four-hour meeting with the mayor of Eilat and other professionals, and against a background of Eilat citizens and businessmen’s protests, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that the Sde Dov airport will close down as planned on July 02, 2019.
Netanyahu tried until the last minute to agree on a compromise that might stop the flights from Sde Dov but leave the possibility to reach a compromise with the owners of the land or to operate the airport in a limited format. However, the Attorney General's office imposed an absolute veto on these alternatives.
The Attorney General explained to the prime minister that it would not be possible to protect the state from lawsuits in that case, and any attempt to stop the evacuation of the airport, even by one day, would cost the State 8-12 billion NIS. To avoid heavy damage to the State, the prime minister decided to shutter the Sde Dov airport.
At the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed that "out of responsibility for the development of the city of Eilat, and in agreement with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transport and with the approval of the Attorney General, he planned to bring a 400 million NIS plan for the development of the city of Eilat before the government within three weeks. The Finance Minister and his staff undertook to provide the necessary financial resources for the plan.
In addition to this budget, other benefits would be given to Eilat residents. These include providing Eilat patients with medical treatment in the center of the country, benefits for Eilat residents who are frequent travelers, benefits for doctors who move to Eilat and giving priority to flights to Eilat at the Ben Gurion Airport. In addition to providing the budgeting for the plan, the Finance Minister guaranteed that flights between Eilat and Ben Gurion Airport will continue at the same frequency as had existed between Eilat and Sde Dov.
The Mayor of Eilat, Meir Yitzhak Halevy, said, "Today is the saddest day of my public life. I hoped that understanding, compassion and sensitivity for the residents of Eilat would win out, but unfortunately greed has defeated justice, logic and national responsibility. Eilat of tomorrow will not be the Eilat of today."
Concerning the list of benefits that the State planned to give Eilat residents, he said, "No one is doing us a favor. It is our right and the State’s duty."
Netanyahu also responded to the mayor's demand that a special team of ministers headed by the prime minister would be formed to ensure the implementation of the 15 year $1.2 billion strategic plan for the city’s development. He also guaranteed to implement the plan more quickly.