Israel Ports Authority Head Quits in Clash with Histadrut Official

The controversy between the Israel Ports Authority and Histadrut was aggravated tonight by the resignation of Gen. Haim Laskov as director of the authority. The former Air Force commander and former Chief of Staff rejected the pleas of the authority’s board members to withdraw his resignation, which had been called for by Yitzhak Ben-Aharon, secretary general of Histadrut and a former Minister of Transport and Communications. Mr. Ben-Aharon has charged that Gen. Laskov was incapable of maintaining relations with Israeli port workers, who have staged frequent and crippling strikes. A cabinet committee headed by Minister of Agriculture Haim Gvati concluded that Mr. Ben-Aharon’s charges were unsubstantiated. It distributed the blame for the strained labor relations equally among all involved parties, including Histadrut, the general labor federation. But the committee also recommended restrictions on the Ports Authority’s independence and increased control by the Transport Minister, which led to Gen. Laskov’s resignation. In a television interview tonight, he explained that the committee report, which he said the board was about to adopt, “would empty my function of all its content.” It would also, he said, “make the Ports Authority as such redundant and expose it to the influence of various pressure groups to which it has so far been immune.” Mr. Ben-Aharon issued a statement today that declared: “I respect Laskov’s decision.” Dr. Naftali Wydra, chairman of the Ports Authority board, and eight board members decided today to urge Transport Minister Shimon Peres to dissuade Gen. Laskov from resigning.

NEXT STORY