Cabinet to vote on giving Gaza a port

Transportation Minister Katz says his proposal might avoid war with Hamas.

A MODEL of the proposed artificial island port that might be built off the Gaza shore. (photo credit: TRANSPORATION MINISTRY)
A MODEL of the proposed artificial island port that might be built off the Gaza shore.
The cabinet is to vote in the coming weeks on a proposal by Transportation Minister Israel Katz to facilitate the creation of a Gazan seaport, to be built on an artificial island off the Strip, the minister told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview which will be published in full on Friday.
For the past several years, Katz has been promoting the idea of constructing a seaport for Gaza on a man-made island. His proposal has recently gained the support of the defense establishment, which is concerned by the prospect of an economic collapse in Gaza triggering another war.
“The world perceives Israel as having responsibility for Gaza,” Katz said during the interview, arguing that enabling the creation of the port will both help ordinary Gazans to make a living and improve Israel’s international diplomatic standing.
“It won’t change Hamas’s ideology,” Katz said, but opening up Gaza to trade with the world certainly has the potential of acting as a restraining factor for Hamas, enabling Gazans to export goods abroad and giving them a new economic horizon, the minister said.
Ultimately, he added, this might weaken Hamas’s grip on power, since the Islamist regime would end up losing its absolute, iron grip on Gaza’s two million people.
The current situation, Katz warned, is untenable.
“Israel should accompany and initiate the port construction program,” Katz said. “The condition is, Israel will not pay for it,” he added.
The island will cost around $5 billion to build, he said, adding that states and private companies could work out how it will be funded. The port would be linked to the Gazan mainland through a bridge with a security checkpoint.
Israel will also have exclusive rights to monitor and check all ships and containers that arrive at the port, he stressed.
“There are many contacts with international elements about this,” he revealed. He envisaged an island stretching out for eight square kilometers, and named states that appear keen to take part in the project.
It would take approximately five years to construct the island, Katz said.
The full interview will be published as a Frontlines feature in Friday’s paper.