PM meets Intel’s Israeli leaders, fetes decision to invest $11b in new plant

Netanyahu says ‘Israel has become a technological world power,’ while local factory manager declares that ‘together were are making history in the country’

Left to right: Manager of Intel's Kiryat Gat production plant Daniel Benatar, Intel Israel CEO Yaniv Garty and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem (GPO video screenshot)
Left to right: Manager of Intel's Kiryat Gat production plant Daniel Benatar, Intel Israel CEO Yaniv Garty and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem (GPO video screenshot)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday met with Intel’s Israeli leadership and saluted the company’s decision to expand its operations in Israel, building a new plant in Kiryat Gat that is expected to include an $11 billion investment.

Netanyahu welcomed the move, which he said would contribute to Israel’s economic growth. “Israel has become a technological world power,” he said. “I am proud that the government is leading this policy.”

Daniel Benatar, manager of the company’s manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat, thanked Netanyahu for the government’s support. “Together were are making history in the country,” he said.

Benatar said Tuesday that the plan shows the tech firm “continues to demonstrate the strong performance of Intel Israel and we continue to lead in terms of corporate economic and social investment in Israel.”

The tech giant said it would not comment on the schedules, costs and technologies of the project.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said late Monday he was informed by Intel of its decision “to invest another 40 billion shekels (almost $11 billion), an unprecedented decision expected to bring thousands of jobs to the south.”

Intel’s plant in Kiryat Gat (Courtesy)

Economy Minister Eli Cohen said Intel had chosen to “build its most advanced plant here in Israel.”

A Globes report earlier Monday said the deal was contingent on the US tech mammoth receiving hefty help from the state with a grant worth 10 percent of the investment.

In May of last year, Intel confirmed plans to invest $5 billion (NIS 19 billion) in expanding its Kiryat Gat production plant in Israel, where it produces and develops some of its most advanced computer chips, through 2020. As part of the investment plan, Intel is expected to get a NIS 700 million government grant.

The company already pays a reduced 5% tax rate, which it would not seek to change under the arrangement, according to the report.

The US firm is transitioning from being a maker of silicon computer chips to a data-centric company, with activities ranging from the manufacturing of chips to developing safety features in vehicles, wireless phone connections, drones and cloud-based technologies.

Since setting up operations in Israel in 1974, the US firm has made cumulative investments and acquisitions of some $35 billion in Israel, as of May 2018, and has grown into the largest private sector employer in the high-tech industry.

Aside from the manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat, in the northern Negev, Intel has  R&D centers in Jerusalem, Petah Tikva and Haifa.

The Silicon Valley giant currently employs 11,700 people in Israel in its Kiryat Gat plant and development centers across the country, in addition to the 1,170 employees of Mobileye, a maker of advanced driver assistance systems that it purchased in 2017 for $15.3 billion.

Intel’s exports from Israel reached $4 billion in 2018, according to the company.

Shoshanna Solomon and AFP contributed to this report.

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