As reported in PORT2PORT:
Transportation Minister Israel Katz informed the cabinet last week that the Nevatim Air Base, located southeast of the city of Be’er Sheva, has been selected as the most logical site for a new international airport facility.
The airport, which is slated to be Israel’s second biggest airfield, will be built in Nevatim and will handle overflow air traffic from Ben Gurion International Airport. A third runway was built at the Nevatim base several years ago to accommodate military planes based at Ben Gurion, and all that is lacking is a passenger terminal to turn it into a civilian airport.
Previous plans had marked the Jezreel Valley, between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Coast, for a new international airport, but environmentalists have vowed to defeat any attempt to turn the verdant rural farmland areas into a large landing strip.
Katz said it is a national priority to advance plans for a new airport, and that the Nevatim base is the logical choice, from both the aspects of financing and the environment. Vice Prime Minister and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom said, “The decision to have a new international airport at Nevatim is of strategic importance to the Negev”, and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel also praised the proposal.
The Defense Ministry had previously opposed building an international airport close to the area’s military base.
Nevertheless, the heads of the local authorities in the south urges the government to execute the plan, saying it was time for the Negev to realize its potential as a tourist attraction. Member of Knesset Avishai Braverman (Labor) welcomed Monday’s decision by Transportation Minister Israel Katz.
The former head of Be’er Sheva’s Ben Gurion University said, “An international airport in Nevatim will give a tremendous boost to the metropolis of the Negev”.