Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On and fellow MK Raleb Majadale (Labor) called for
the government to cancel its tender for the sale of Eilat Port Company Sunday,
after Israel Chemicals, a unit of Ofer Brothers Group subsidiary Israel
Chemicals, was left as the only remaining candidate.
Gal-On called the
potential sale a “scandal,” saying that this “reckless privatization” would only
increase the level of concentration in the shipping industry. She criticized the
committee overseeing the tender for ignoring the fact that Israel Chemicals
controls a chemical terminal at Eilat seaport and that the Ofer Group also owns
the Zim shipping company.
“For months we have been warning relevant
ministers and professionals that this privatization will be a repeat of past
privatizations that benefited these same people who are used to buying public
assets for nothing,” Gal- On said.
“The government must free itself of
its obsession with privatization and keep Eilat Port in the hands of the state,
especially when the alternative is its sale to the Ofer Brothers – which will
harm the public and pocket millions at the expense of future state
Israel Chemicals officials said in response that attempts to
disqualify it from a legitimate tender are dangerously populist, and pointed out
that the company is the largest employer in the South and the largest exporter
in the entire country.
The officials added that those who oppose awarding
them the tender prefer that the port be purchased by somebody else who cares
less about its future and its workers.