Photo Credit: Tsahi Ben-Ami / Flash 90
El Al Airlines, the national airline of Israel

A third bidder for Israel’s national carrier, El Al Airlines, flew to the Jewish State for a brief visit Tuesday to discuss his proposal in person.

Meir Gurvitz, 56, born in Kiryat Ata, is a religious Israeli businessman who works from the United States, and who has applied for a permit to purchase between 25 to 40 percent of the airline’s shares.

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According to a report by The Jerusalem Post, Gurvitz is willing to share ownership of the company with the current controlling shareholders, Knafaim Holdings.

At the beginning, only the Israeli government was talking about saving the airline with a lifesaving loan and the sale of shares; there were no bidders, and there were many conditions being discussed with the carrier by the government.

Then there was Eli Rosenberg, a wealthy yeshiva student still in his twenties, living in Jerusalem but whose family certainly has the means to bid for the controlling shares of the airline. His father, Kenny Rosenberg, is a US businessman. The younger Rosenberg made a $100 million bid for 45 percent of the company — enough to win control of the carrier. Recently, Rosenberg also added former Trump administration Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt to his team of advisers, and said that if he wins the bid, he will appoint Greenblatt to act as his personal representative on the El Al Board of Directives.

Shortly after came a second and then a third suitor.

Israeli Russian businessman David Sapir has offered a bid to control 38 percent of the airline. After receiving a “letter of encouragement” from the El Al Board of Directors, Sapir is working to obtain a $400 million from Deutsch Bank, according to the Globes business news website.

El Al Airlines needs to raise at least NIS 505 million ($148 million) in shares in order to obtain that desperately-needed, state-guaranteed loan. For its part, the government commits to purchasing some NIS 265 million worth of El Al shares in a public offering, if no one else does, to then be sold within two years. The remainder is to be covered in a sale to private investors.

All of this, by the way — the shares have to be put up for sale — by September 10.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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