Despite bombings, Trump looks to build in Netanya

jerusalem | The mayor of Netanya, which was hit recently by a suicide bombing, said last week that billionaire Donald Trump is planning to build a huge beachfront hotel complex in the Israeli coastal city.

Miriam Fireberg-Ikar said a top Trump business associate has visited the city three times on his private jet and was planning to build a number of hotels on 38 acres of empty seaside real estate.

Netanya has been among the Israeli cities hardest hit by terrorism, severely damaging its tourism industry. The Trump associate, Michael Dezer, said plans for the $500 million hotel complex were still on track even after a suicide bomber killed himself and five others at the city’s main mall Dec. 5.

“The bombings are a part of life in Israel. We are used to it and it doesn’t change a thing,” said Dezer, an Israeli-born real estate tycoon in the United States, speaking by phone from Miami.

Dezer came up with the hotel idea six months ago when Fireberg-Ikar was visiting Miami. He said he contacted Trump, who agreed to join the project.

The leading Israeli daily Ma’ariv ran a front-page headline last week reading, “Coming Soon: Trump Hotels in Netanya.”

Trump spokeswoman Norma Foerderer would not confirm the involvement of the star of NBC’s reality show “The Apprentice,” saying it was “premature’ to talk about the Netanya project.

Fireberg-Ikar said Dezer discussed the project with Israel’s finance and tourism ministers, who expressed support. The plan is to build 2,500 rooms in several three-, four- and five-star hotels at the southern end of Netanya’s beach, next to a eight-mile-long promenade.

Dezer said the project included a plan to build several conference centers and a museum for antique cars.

Netanya, 20 miles north of Tel Aviv, has some of Israel’s best beaches. The city is also close to the West Bank, making it a frequent target of Palestinian suicide bombers during the past five years of fighting.