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Half billion shekel to go to Negev, as delays in IDF move south continue

CM 14/11/2021 1

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Half a billion shekels will be invested in strengthening Beersheba and the Negev, as the planned transfer of central IDF bases to southern Israel continues to face delays, according to a new plan approved by the government on Sunday.
The plan, formulated by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, aims to strengthen towns and cities in the Negev in preparation for the IDF’s planned move down south.
The announcement of the plan pointed out that, despite relative development in the area, the Negev’s full economic potential had not been exhausted and that there were still noticeable wage gaps between residents of central Israel and residents of the Beersheba area.

According to the plan, NIS 40 million will be set aside for planning a public hospital in the Negev. NIS 150 million will be set aside for building an IDF-academic-industrial ecosystem, including expanding Ben-Gurion University, with a focus on hi-tech, cyber and computer science, and cooperation in research and development between the university, Soroka Medical Center and technological units in the IDF.
The plan will also focus on forming the Desertech quarter of Beersheba, with a focus on digital health and cyber.

Overhead view of Beersheba (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Overhead view of Beersheba (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

NIS 15 million will be dedicated to establishing an international center on climate change with an emphasis on desert environments in southern Israel. The center will be aimed at promoting desert technologies and Israeli innovation and establishing Israel as an international leader in dealing with climate change. The center will serve as a meeting point between policy, industry and research on climate change and the desert.
NIS 90 million will be set aside for exhausting opportunities for residents of the south to be integrated into the development work in the region, including training for nurses and for potential medical students, cyber and science tracks, strengthening of technological education and improvements to health services.
NIS 65 million will be set aside to encourage people to move to the Negev, including grants for the development of the Beersheba metropolitan area, a multi-year plan for residence projects and subsidies for the development of the area.
NIS 80 million will be set aside for developing infrastructure and transportation, including plans for a high-speed train between Beersheba and Tel Aviv and a light rail train between Beersheba and the IDF’s planned Laqiya Camp which will be serve as the IDF’s new intelligence campus.
“We will invest half a billion NIS in education, employment, reducing wage gaps, planning a public hospital, strengthening technology and innovation, developing transportation and creating fast transportation from the center to the south, infrastructure and the list goes on,” said Bennett. “I am pleased with this important decision, which reflects the government’s policy. We talked about investing in the Negev, and here it is happening in the field. As Ben-Gurion said: ‘In the Negev, the people of Israel will be tested.'”
“The plan expresses the significant crossover between the IDF and Israeli society, and the need to strengthen national infrastructure and national needs through the defense system and all civilian systems,” said Gantz. “We will continue to strengthen the south and the north by various means and within a few years we will bring about a situation in which a third of the servicemembers of the technological units will all be from the social and geographical periphery.”
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi welcomed the announcement of the plan, saying on Sunday that the “decisions reached today constitute a significant milestone in the realization of the vision of the State of Israel and the IDF in creating good conditions for IDF servicemen and the units taking part in this important national project.”
Ramat HaNegev Regional Council head Eran Doron welcomed the approval of the plan, saying that it was “real good news and proof that the government puts the importance of strengthening settlement and tourism development in the Negev as a top priority.”
“It is important to ensure that government budgets are directed to address the evacuation of firing ranges, as a result of which it will be possible to boost tourism and the economy in the Negev in general, and to grow settlement in the area near the Egyptian border in particular,” added Doron.
“The development of the Negev is a first-class task and a significant milestone for the government, which will first and foremost lead to the development of the economy and employment in the region,” said Liberman. “The economic growth of the Negev through national projects that will include infrastructure development, education and the IDF will lead to the prosperity of the entire country and will encourage positive immigration to the region and improve its image.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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