Monday, July 15, 2013

Cabinet approves Negev civilian development plan

Plan includes move of 10,000 soldiers from Tzrifin training bases to mega-base being built south of Beersheba.

Entrance to IDF base
Entrance to IDF base Photo: REUTERS/Eliana Aponte
The cabinet on Sunday approved a half billion shekel, five-year civilian development plan for the Negev, which will complement the multi-billion shekel plan to move much of the country’s military infrastructure from the center of the country to the south.

Under the plan, industrial zones will be subsidized, three new industrial parks will be developed, and subsidies for hi-tech workers will be used as incentives for companies to move to the Negev.

Some 10,000 soldiers are scheduled to move from instruction bases in Tzrifin to a huge mega-base being built 20 kilometers south of Beersheba.

Building off IDF technological units that are also scheduled to move south, the cabinet was told that the hope is to turn Beersheba into a hi-tech hub.
Under the plan, Beersheba, Dimona, Yeroham, Arad, Ofakim and the Merhavim Regional Council will be declared national priority communities where the local authorities will be eligible for upgraded assistance and support, especially in managing long-term planning.

The Negev and Galilee Development Ministry will be responsible for the overall government work in implementing the plan. Young couples, the cabinet was told, will be encouraged to move to the Negev because of attractive housing and increased culture and recreational opportunities.

Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom said his ministry, together with the local authorities, “will manage a campaign to change the image of the Negev. In recent years, the Negev has undergone a revolution, is drawing strong populations and is developing in all aspects of life. This additional investment will provide an additional urgency to the Negev and will upgrade the entire region as well as its residents.”

The plan presented to the cabinet includes significant investment in economic infrastructure, housing, and the development of hi-tech capabilities.

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