An Air Force base in the Negev is increasingly likely to be the home of Israel’s second major international airport/
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz told the Cabinet this week that the Nevatim Air Base, located southeast of Be’er Sheva, is the most logical site for a new facility, which will take the burden off Ben Gurion Airport. Israel’s existing Ovdat, Haifa and Eilat airports no do not have runways long enough to handle international jetliners.
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 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.
Labor Knesset Member Avishai Braverman, former president of Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, commented, "An international airport in Nevatim will give a tremendous boost to the metropolis of the Negev. In contrast, the idea of setting up the airport precisely at Megiddo in the north would severely harm the environment and residents of the region."