Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday approved a five-year, 3.2 billion shekel ($843 million) to invest in eastern Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the program to reduce economic and social disparities in the eastern section of Israel’s capital city following the Cabinet meeting.
“We brought a decision in favor of the residents of east Jerusalem. A decision that will change the face of the city of Jerusalem, that will bring about a massive development of infrastructure, health, welfare, personal security, employment and an increase in the number of entitled to [high school] matriculation certificates,” Netanyahu said.
“We are building Jerusalem, strengthening the governance and uniting Jerusalem,” the premier continued.
Also speaking at the live-streamed event were Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Minister of Jerusalem and Israel’s Tradition Meir Porush and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion.
Porush presented the plan for the years 2024-2028 at the Cabinet meeting.
“The government is investing in the Arab population, not because the investment in it will be expressed by adding numbers [of Knesset members] to the coalition, as was the case in the previous government. We are investing billions in them because it is the most humane thing to do, and we do it with all our will and with all our hearts,” Porush said.
In addition, the government approved approximately 1 billion shekels ($263.5 million) for transportation projects in eastern Jerusalem including the Eastern Ring Road to connect Israeli communities south of the city in the Bethlehem area to Israeli communities in the Ma’ale Adumim area, east of the capital.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir voiced opposition to the eastern Jerusalem investment during the Cabinet meeting, saying that “we need to make sure that the money does not just goes but goes to the right places. I’m very upset that money will go to the wrong districts and places that will misuse it.”
Smotrich had earlier frozen funds intended to help integrate eastern Jerusalem residents into Israeli universities due to concerns that they would be radicalized there, but he later agreed to release the money.
“The national camp governments were the ones who invested and will invest the most. We want to do it right. We want to make sure that these budgets reach their destination and not for other purposes, whether criminal elements, involvement of terrorism, incitement and violence. The state closed its eyes on this matter. Now we are putting an end to it,” Smotrich said.
“I am happy to lead the largest five-year plan for East Jerusalem,” Smotrich said, “As someone who believes in strengthening the sovereignty of Jerusalem as a whole, I see great importance in the five-year plan. We invest in education and training, employment and economic development, transportation, public buildings, service to residents, increasing personal security and more. Office The Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Ministry of Jerusalem and Israel Tradition and the municipality are investing billions in the development of East Jerusalem. United Jerusalem is not a slogan, it is a responsibility. A responsibility for every resident, a responsibility for the development and prosperity of Jerusalem, our eternal capital. Jerusalem built as a city that is connected to it together – from words to deeds. Congratulations to the residents of Jerusalem.”
JewishPress.com News Desk contributed to this report.