Israel plans to build artificial island alongside Gaza

09:50, March 31, 2011      

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Israel has been developing a secret plan over the past several months to build an eight square kilometers artificial island, 4.5 kilometers off the Gaza Strip coastline, which would be connected to the shore by a bridge, a source closed to the Israeli government told Xinhua on Wednesday.

The plan, developed by Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, will allow Palestinians in Gaza access to the world without needing to venture through Israeli or Egyptian border crossings, as well as allowing free imports and exports.

The project, estimated to cost between five billion to 10 billion U.S. dollars, would include housing, hotels, tourist attractions, an airport, and a harbor. The island would have its own electric power station and water purification plant, as well as areas set aside for logistic support.

Katz's plan calls for international control and administration of the island and its land bridge, which would be a monitored demilitarized zone.

The plan is meant to be coordinated between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), not Hamas, which wrested control of Gaza from the PNA's Fatah in 2007, and which Israel considers a terrorist group.

The source told Xinhua that the plan has received a great deal of local and international positive attention, and would take between six to 10 years to complete.

While the plan has not received government approval officially, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are familiar with the project. The Prime Minister's Office said the plan has been discussed, along with other options, at a recent session of the government's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Source: Xinhua
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