Tichon Resigns as Port Company Chairman

Dan Tichon announced yesterday that he was resigning as chairman of the Israel Ports Development & Assets Company.

"Never in my public career have I encountered such standards of behavior as those at the Ports Authority," said Dan Tichon, former Knesset speaker, yesterday after announcing that he was resigning as chairman of the Israel Ports Development & Assets Company.

Tichon, who informed Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit of the decision, said he was resigning because his attempts to root out corruption in the ports were thwarted by intense political forces. At the same time, he recommended that the attorney general, the state comptroller and even the police look very closely at an audit report that discloses serious flaws in the company's management.

Port sources said yesterday that Tichon resigned to preempt a decision by the company board to fire him. Relations between Tichon and CEO Amos Ron are known to have been tense, and they had been worsening recently. A board meeting had been scheduled for yesterday.

In a press conference yesterday to announce and explain his departure from the company, Tichon said, "I am known as a serial latrine cleaner, but unfortunately I have failed in my latest public mission. I was brought in to implement the reforms and to treat the difficult problems that have arisen."

Tichon was referring to last year's reforms in the sector, which saw the replacement of the Ports Authority with three separate port companies - Eilat, Ashdod and Haifa - and the Israel Ports Development & Assets Company, which is responsible for the assets and development of the three ports, which remain state owned.

"Never in my public career have I encountered such standards of behavior as those in the Ports Authority," said Tichon. "From the moment I took over the job, I had a sense that there were attempts to mix me up with some scandal with which I had no connection."

Tichon showed a draft of an internal report that concluded that the tender process for sand mining at Ashdod Port had broken the law. He said senior political elements were involved in the process.

"This deal was carried out without a tender, against all accepted rules, using clauses that are forbidden to use. Two legal advisors refused to deal with the matter, claiming the matter stank. It was managed hastily, to finish it before I arrived," Tichon said. "Within the hour, the tender was closed and some unknown party won. The price was risible given the work involved. In all my experience, I have never read a report like this."