Many members of the security cabinet favor building an artificial island off the Gaza Strip to serve as its port, but due to opposition from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, no decision was made when the forum discussed the idea Sunday night, according to three senior officials briefed on what happened at the meeting.
The proposal, the brainchild of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, calls for the artificial island to be under international control. In addition to serving as a seaport, the island would contain infrastructure facilities that would provide water and power to Gaza residents.
Speaking on Monday at Haaretz’s Israel Conference on Peace in Tel Aviv, Katz himself described some of what happened at Sunday’s meeting, which focused on Gaza’s electricity crisis. He said he had shown the ministers a two-and-a-half-minute video prepared by the Israel Ports Company, which included a computer simulation of the artificial island, details about the proposed port and infrastructure facilities, explanations of how the island would be linked to Gaza by a bridge, and explanations about how security inspections would be conducted at sea, on the island and at the crossing to Gaza.
Katz, who is also the intelligence minister, said he also told the security cabinet that building the island would cost around $5 billion, all of which would come from international donations.
But Lieberman said he opposed it on security grounds, as he didn’t believe it would be possible to conduct effective security checks that would prevent arms smuggling to Gaza via the island. He also said Israel’s strategy toward Gaza ought to condition any rehabilitation of the territory on its disarmament.
Due to his opposition, the meeting ended with no decision. Read more at Ha’Aretz.