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The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) is considering building a joint Israeli-Palestinian airport on the Poleg beach south of Netanya, authority chairman Ovadia Eli said this weekend.

Addressing an economic conference at Ben-Gurion Airport, Eli said that the airport would be jointly managed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. To facilitate Palestinian access, it would be connected to the West Bank via a tunnel. "This would be a confidence-building measure that would enable international fund-raising," he said. "There are high-level talks [about the proposal] on both sides. Former British prime minister Tony Blair is also involved in the matter."

Eli stressed that no decision has yet been made on whether Israel should have a second international airport at all; this will depend on the outcome of feasibility studies on the plan's technical, ecological and financial aspects. And even if the plan is approved, the airport would not be built for "over a decade."

Nevertheless, he argued, "for strategic, security, economic and labor relations reasons, another international airport is vital," and a joint venture could eliminate the competition over air space that might arise if the PA simply built its own airport.