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      Bennett: Ports Announcement ‘A Big Step for Competition’

      Economics Minister pleased as ports face being declared an oligopoly.

      First Publish: 5/17/2013, 10:34 AM

      Naftali Bennett
      Naftali Bennett
      Flash 90

      Minister of Industry and Trade Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) expressed satisfaction Thursday evening as the ports in Haifa and Ashdod were warned that they may be declared an oligopoly. A hearing will be held before a formal declaration is made.

      “A small step in reforming the ports – a big step toward competition in Israel,” Bennett wrote on Facebook.

      Bennett pledged months ago to take on the ports, a source of wildcat strikes that paralyze exports and imports, beginning almost at Israel's inception as well as a close-knit group of workers that is known for keeping new jobs "in the family.". During Bennett's first speech in Knesset, he warned, “The monopoly on the ports does critical damage to the entire state of Israel” and accused the workers’ committees at the ports of “[holding] the entire country hostage.”

      On Thursday he explained the meaning of the warning issued by Antitrust Authority head David Gilo. “The companies that currently operate the ports cannot operate a new port or new platforms in the existing ports. In other words – there will be competition in the ports!” he wrote.

      “This is a bold and extremely important step,” he continued. “It will take a few years until we all feel the significance, but it will come: better service, faster operation, lower costs, and all of this will lead to lower prices and will ease conditions for Israel exporters.”

      A new port is planned for either Haifa or Ashdod. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has stated that he plans to let a private operator, rather than one of the existing port operators, run the new port.