Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing the Israeli Knesset, said last week he had approved the plan by Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz to privatize the new port that will be built in either Haifa or Ashdod.
The Israel Ports Development Co. said earlier this month that six foreign companies from Europe, China and South Africa have submitted bids to prequalify for the terminal construction at the Mediterranean coast ports. Two Israeli firms are among the contenders. Company CEO Shlomo Brieman says that Israel would need two new container terminals within the next decade. The first would go into service in 2018.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Transport Minister Yisrael Katz will have to decide which port project will be given priority or whether they will be developed simultaneously.
Under the plan, an international tender will shortly be published for the operation of the new port by a private company that specializes in the operation of large ports.
The port operator will have a 30-year franchise.
Netanyahu's decision will face fierce opposition by the workers committees at Ashdod Port Company Ltd. and Haifa Port Company Ltd., and the government is preparing for a prolonged ports strike.
Gad Schaefer, the Israel Shippers' Council (ISC) chairman has welcome Netanyahu's address but noted that any decision to change the present situation should be made in consultation with ports workers.