Mayor aims to brake airport closure plan

Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy has asked the government to intervene to cancel a decision that would close the Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv on Saturdays and Jewish holidays, reports The mayor said that a recent decision by the Israel Air Force rabbi to stop providing air traffic control services on Sabbaths and holidays, effectively closing the airport on those days, would be a "severe blow" for tourism in Eilat. According to the report, Yitzhak Halevy has asked Air Force and Defense Ministry officials to cancel the rabbi's order, and has held discussions with airport and Arkia airlines managers on the subject. The mayor said the decision was damaging to the religious status quo in the city, as well as causing great harm to the tourism industry in Eilat. He said thousands of people flew into and out of the city at weekends, especially in summer, and the cancellation of those flights would cause "unbearable overloading" at the airport on weekdays. "Without entering into religious considerations, we demand that the relevant government offices find a solution that will suit everyone and will prevent the human damage that is expected to the tourism sector," Yitzhak Halevy said. "The city of Eilat cannot stand under such a sweeping sentence, and we will do everything required to prevent this sentence." No response was reported.