The Cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to upgrade the southern Israeli city of Sderot and its surrounds, and to build a new hospital in Be’er Sheva.
The NIS 1.3 billion five-year plan was created by a team of ministry director-generals led by PMO director Harel Locker. It is the largest and most comprehensive economic development plan ever made for the area, according to a release from the prime minister’s office.
The plan supplements the government’s July 13 decision to allocate NIS 417 million in economic benefits to the area adjacent to Gaza in 2015-2016. Approximately half of that sum is dedicated to Sderot.
“This is the largest investment that the State of Israel has ever made in this area,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “This is in addition to the NIS 417 million that we transferred during Operation Protective Edge. We are developing a new industrial zone in Sderot, transportation infrastructure in the area and are encouraging young people and students to move to the area adjacent to Gaza.
“We came to this country to build and to be built. We came to this part of our land in order to build and be built in it, and no one will uproot us. We will strengthen our hold and our development of this area just as in other areas,” the prime minister said.
“On Tuesday we will submit for Cabinet approval a supplement regarding an approximately NIS 2 billion in additional funds for the communities and cities of the south,” Netanyahu continued.
“In the framework of this decision, we will build a new hospital in Be’er Sheva, in addition to the hundreds of additional beds for the existing Soroka Medical Center.
“We will connect new natural gas infrastructures for the benefit of factories in the south. We will invest in initiatives to connect the Negev in the framework of the Digital Israel program.
“We will encourage small and mid-size businesses. We will develop tourism and all aspects of life, including the important ‘cyber’ aspect for all residents of the Negev, including Bedouin.
“This is a deep commitment on our part. I think that it has found expression.”Hana Levi Julian