Despite the fact that the Knesset has passed a law to shut it down, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declaring that he intended to see that law through, the issue of the closure of Tel Aviv’s Sdeh Dov Airport is not at all a closed matter, at least as far as MK Betzalel Smotrich is concerned. At a meeting of the Knesset Interior Committee, Smotrich rallied against the closure of the airport, saying that it would be “the end of the Open Skies policy” of the Transportation Ministry that has brought the prices of air travel down.
Sdeh Dov, which takes up hundreds of dunams of some of the most valuable land in Tel Aviv, was slated for closure already in 2017, after the Knesset voted in 2015 to authorize the closure. The airport’s civilian flight runways are used strictly for domestic flights, mostly to and from Eilat. The flights are to be moved to Ben Gurion Airport, while the land that currently constitutes the airport will be developed for homes and shopping. The military section of the airport was set to continue operating until 2019. In 2017, a new Knesset law extended civilian operations at the airport until 2019 as well.
But the case is not closed as far as some MKs, including Smotrich, are concerned. Speaking at the Committee meeting, Smotrich said that “Ben Gurion Airport cannot absorb the flights that currently use Sdeh Dov. There is a limit to the number of flights the airport can handle. This is what all professionals who are familiar with the situation tell us. The only party that is really pushing the closure is the Finance Ministry, which is looking forward to the income from real estate and other taxes. We plan to propose a law that will reflect the concerns of many Israelis and professionals, who take a wider view of the situation beyond the immediate payoff,” he said.