Israel’s Transport Minister plans Gaza artificial island to ease blockade

By March 10 2017, 14:43 Latest News No Comments

Gaza islandYisrael Katz, Israel’s Minister of Intelligence and Transportation, has proposed plans to build a £4 billion artificial island port off the coast of Gaza, according to an interview to AP on Thursday.

The three square mile island, which would become Palestinian territory, would be connected to the coast by a three mile bridge, and is part of Mr Katz’s broader aspirations of creating regional security and “economic peace”.

Mr Katz said that the island would take over five years to build, and would host a desalination plant, power station, airport, and hotels.

The Minister proposed that creation of the island would alleviate shortages of electricity and water and provide the 1.8 million population of Gaza with real access to the world. Israel would only have a limited role in supervising the island with security.

Mr Katz stated: “Israel has no interest to make life harder for the population there. But because of security concerns we can’t build an airport or seaport in Gaza”.

The Transportation Minister added: “No Palestinian can oppose this, not Abu Mazen (Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) and not Hamas, because it gives them an opening to the world”.

The artificial island would help increase the number of goods entering the territory. Israel currently permits on average the entry of around 850 truckloads of goods into Gaza daily. The island would also provide jobs for unemployed Gazans, with unemployment figures in Gaza in 2016 standing at 42%.

“This plan strengthens Israel’s position and improves the situation in the region and does not preclude the possibility of negotiations or arrangements in the future”, Mr Katz said.

Israel’s security establishment and cabinet colleagues have shown support for the proposal, although Palestinians have raised scepticism over the plans. President Abbas’s Foreign Affairs adviser Nabil Shaath told AP: “Katz’s idea is to build a place that will be easy for Israel to control”.

Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, to prevent arms reaching the Hamas terrorist group which is committed to Israel’s destruction.

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