500 million shekel to go to the Negev, as delays in IDF move south continue

NIS 500 million will be invested in strengthening Beersheba and the Negev as the planned transfer of IDF central bases to southern Israel continues to be delayed, 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 south.

The announcement of the plan noted that despite relative development in the area, the Negev’s full economic potential had not been exhausted and that notable wage gaps still existed 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 the construction of an IDF academic-industrial ecosystem, including the expansion of Ben-Gurion University, with a focus on high-tech, cyber and informatics, and research and development cooperation between the university, Soroka Medical Center. and technology units in the IDF.

The plan will also focus on the formation of the Desertech neighborhood of Beersheba, with a focus on digital and cyber health.

Aerial view of Beersheba (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

NIS 15 million will be dedicated to the establishment of an international center on climate change with an emphasis on desert environments in southern Israel. The center will aim to promote Israeli desert technologies and innovation and establish Israel as an international leader in addressing climate change. The center will serve as a meeting point between politics, industry and research on climate change and the desert.

NIS 90 million will be set aside to exhaust southern residents’ integration opportunities in the region’s development work, including training potential nurses and medical students, cyber and science pathways, strengthening technology education, and improvements in 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 grants for the development of the area.

NIS 80 million will be set aside to develop infrastructure and transportation, including plans for a high-speed train between Beersheba and Tel Aviv and a light rail between Beersheba and the IDF-planned Laqiya camp, which will serve as the new intelligence campus of the IDF.

“We will invest NIS 500 million in education, employment, reducing pay gaps, planning a public hospital, strengthening technology and innovation, developing transportation and creating rapid transportation from the center to the south, infrastructure and the list goes on,” he said. Bennett. . “I am satisfied with this important decision, which reflects the government’s policy. We are talking 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 put to the test. ‘”

“The plan expresses the significant crossover between the IDF and Israeli society, and the need to strengthen the national infrastructure and national needs through the defense system and all civil systems,” Gantz said. “We will continue to strengthen the south and the north by various means and within a few years we will achieve a situation in which a third of the military in 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 made today constitute a significant milestone in realizing the vision of the State of Israel and the IDF in creating good conditions for the military and IDF units participating in this important national project. “

The head of the Ramat HaNegev Regional Council, Eran Doron, welcomed the approval of the plan, saying it was “real good news and proof that the government sees the importance of strengthening settlements and tourism development in the Negev. as an absolute priority. “

“It is important to ensure that government budgets are directed to addressing the evacuation of the shooting ranges, as a result of which it will be possible to boost tourism and the economy in the Negev in general, and increase settlements in the area close to Egypt.” . border in particular, “added Doron.

“The development of the Negev is a first-class task and an important milestone for the government, which will lead first and foremost to the development of the economy and employment in the region,” Liberman said. “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.”


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