After news that Idan Ofer's Israel Chemicals Limited was the sole remaining bidder to operate the Eilat port, the government is deferring the bidding process for a month.

ICL was the only firm to post the required guarantees on the tender after the Gold Bond group of Shlomo Shmeltzer and Shlomi Fogel, Yossi Maimon's Gadot firm and the Nakash brothers' Papo Maritime all informed the Government Companies Authority that they were dropping out of the process.

Before the deferral of the deadline, Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich called for the tender to be canceled and threatened to go to court to stop it.

She suggested that the nature of the other holdings by the Ofer family's Israel Corporation constituted a conflict of interest inasmuch as they include a controlling interest in Zim shipping lines and noted that Israel Chemicals operates a private shipment dock near the Eilat port.

For its part, ICL said it was the largest employer in the Negev and intended to invest half a billion shekels in the Eilat port.

The firm called the attempt to eliminate the ICL bid "empty populism."