In the first phase, the Treasury succeeded in the Ashkelon plant, which was duely tendered and built by a private consorcium of companies. As a kind of compensation, the Ashdod Plant was to be built by Mekorot, but the Treasury sabotaged that statist effort and Ashdod was not built. Other private tenders did not succeed, mostly because of availabilty of sea side lands and the ´green´ opposition.
Now we have a very dry run and desalination has become a significant source of water. Fu'ad has decided to allow Mekorot to extend its control of the water business by financing the Ashdod plant. But IDE, the company that built the Ashquelon plant, stopped it argueing (rightly) that it was not awarded in public tender, but within the mekorot old statist non-competitive cost-plus finance agreement.
"Any decision that does not enable the immediate construction of the desalination facility will lead to a one- to two-year delay of the project and bring catastrophe to the water economy," National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told state water officials this weekend. Ben-Eliezer was referring to the Ashdod desalination plant, whose fate is in the hands of the Tel Aviv District Court.The issue that is being fought is: are we dismounting the Mekorot monopoly of water supply, or are we reinforcing it? Will the Ashdod Plant ever built?
Last week Tel Aviv District Court Judge Yehooda Zaft recommended that the National Infrastructures Ministry and Mekorot Water Company agree to a temporary order against the continued construction of the plant by the partnership of Mekorot Yizum and General Electric. The recommendation came after IDE Technologies filed for a temporary order against the partnership, which it claims was created without a tender.
The state is to discuss today its response to the court. Ben-Eliezer has asked his ministry's legal advisers to explain to the court the severity of Israel's water shortage. "I am fighting tooth and nail not to have to face the inhabitants of the State of Israel next year and explain why there's no water," Ben-Eliezer said.
"I am willing to explain that we are after a five-year period of low rainfall, the likes of which have not been seen in the last century and which no one predicted. I am willing to explain that in the past the treasury convinced the entire cabinet to reduce its earlier resolutions regarding the amount of desalinated water the country needs," he said. (HaAretz)