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Behind the Headlines Canadian Contracts with Israel

August 8, 1979
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“When all the totals are in Canada will have drummed up, in signed and pending contracts, between $1.5 billion and $2 billion worth of business in Israel,” Lou Ronson, president of the Canada-Israel Chamber of Commerce told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency upon his return from a recent business tour of Israel.

Included in the list of major projects is a contract to redesign Ben Gurion Airport which has been secured by the Toronto-based architectural planning firm known popularly as IBI, a potential $1.5 billion venture to take over and restructure the Israel government-owned telephone and telegraph system, and two major railway infrastructure projects which include the reopening of the long defunct Cairo-Tel Aviv line through Sinai, Ronson said.

The IBI firm has secured the redesigning of Ben Gurion Airport, including extension of the main runway, an addition to the existing terminal to be finished by 1990. Phil Beinhaker, IBI president, estimated that by the time of completion the whole project will approach $200 million in 1979 dollars.

The Calgary-based engineering firm, Construct, is negotiating the building of a rail system to link the Mediterranean with Eilat, via the giant phosphates plant at Sodom providing on efficient land bridge between Europe and Asia for the convenience, storage and distribution of container traffic.

The contract is worth some $300 million and was the subject of discussion with Premier Menachem begin who discussed it afterwards with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Alexandria on July 13. Begin and Sadat have agreed in principle to reopen the rail line which has not been in use since 1947. Taken together, the Mediterranean-Eilat link and the Cairo-Tel Aviv railway line will be worth more than $750 million, Ronson estimated.


A Canadian consortium whose name has not yet been divulged is in a stage of advanced negotiations for an extensive modernization of Israel’s telephone and telegraph system. The project, valued at $1.5 billion, involves the installation of some 200,000 new telephones within two years.

A Montreal subsidiary of Texas Air Pollution Controls (TEPCO) is negotiating a contract to manufacture air pollution control equipment in Israel. Jack Simms, the head of TEPCO. Canadian operation, said he feels that Israel of fers a multi-million dollar market for his company’s product and met with Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat who expressed interest in a total pollution control package for his municipality. Simms is due to return to Israel this month to begin final negotiation.”

Douglas Bassett, president of the Toronto-based Baton Broadcasting Corporation, has initiated discussion with the Israel government in relation to the establishment of a second, commercial television channel in that country. The negotiations are still in an exploratory stage.

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