Israel studies plan to build island of Gaza strip: report

Artificial island project has the backing of Netanyahu

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Israel is studying plans to create an artificial island along the Gaza Strip with sea and air ports to be controlled by the Palestinian Authority, an Israeli television channel reported Tuesday.

The project, under development for three months by Transport Minister Yaakov Katz proposes building a man-made island four kilometers (2.5 miles) long and two kilometers (1.2 miles) wide, Israel's Channel 2 television reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backs the plan for the island, which would also contain a tourist area, a marina, hotels and a desalination plant for sea water, the report said. It would be linked to Gaza by a four-kilometer bridge.

It is estimated the project will cost $5-$10 billion (3.5-7 billion euros) and take six to 10 years to complete, the channel reported.

The project's backers in the government would like to see the island managed by Mahmud Abbas' Palestinian Authority -- freezing out Islamist movement Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip.

Hamas and Abbas' Fatah party have been at loggerheads since the early 1990s. Tensions boiled over in 2007, when the enmity erupted into bloodshed that saw Hamas kick their rivals out of Gaza.

Since then, Gaza has been effectively cut off from the West Bank, which is under the control of Fatah, and the coastal enclave has been under an Israeli naval blockade.