Officials: Haifa to Be Regional Gateway to Europe

YERUSHALAYIM -
A crane unloads a container at the port of the northern city of Haifa Thursday (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
A crane unloads a container at the port of the northern Israel city of Haifa. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Haifa Port is being refurbished and expanded, and all countries of the region seeking to export goods more easily to Europe and the West are invited to make use of its resources, Israel Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said Monday on a tour of northern Israel. Under the present political constellation, that means that Jordan and Turkey – two countries that Israel has diplomatic relations with but do not have access to the Mediterranean – are the countries most likely to take advantage of the system.

Goods from those countries will be brought to a new crossing station at Beit She’an, where goods will be able to enter Israel via Jordan, to be transported from there to Haifa Port. That transport will be done by truck, or, beginning next October, by rail, as the northern Beit She’an-Haifa line of Israel Railways begins service. The line will terminate in Haifa Port. “As a result of this extra cargo, activity at Haifa Port will grow considerably,” Katz said.

Katz said that he intends to make Haifa Port a regional shipping center. “I will act to ensure that the shipping prices at the port are competitive, and that the port can be a viable alternative for Gulf states and other countries to easily reach the West,” he said.

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav said that the improvements to the port will do a great deal to enhance his city’s economy. “Projects like the northern railway line and the expansion of the port will bear important fruits in the coming years, strengthening the economic basis of Haifa as the capital of the North,” he said.