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New airport for southern Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel approved plans to build a $500 million airport to serve as the new main airport in the country’s south.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet approved a plan Sunday for the airport in Timna Park, 18 miles north of Eilat, where the country’s main southern airport is currently located.

The Timna Park airport, which will take approximately three years to construct, will be named for the late Ilan and Asaf Ramon and will replace the Eilat airport.

Netanyahu said the relocation would free up valuable Eilat land for development and spare residents the noise and pollution of air traffic.

“This is part of the steps we are taking to change Eilat and the Negev, which will include laying a railway to Eilat and broadening the Arava road, and we are looking into the possibility of relocating Eilat port,” he said, according to a Cabinet statement.

Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, was one of seven crew members killed in the space shuttle Columbia’s accident in February 2003. His son Asaf, a captain in the Israeli Air Force, was killed during a training flight in September 2009.

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