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Government Declares Massive Steps for Israeli 'Heritage'

Israel's "Heritage Sites" trails planned to enhance Jewish and Zionist identity for youth.
By Malkah Fleisher
First Publish: 2/16/2010, 9:17 PM / Last Update: 2/17/2010, 7:55 AM

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The State of Israel has begun a NIS 500 million investment plan aimed at refurbishing Israeli "heritage sites." The sites will be featured on two new hiking paths, which will give trekkers an opportunity to connect to the land with their feet.

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the plan at the annual Herzliya Conference.  Now it turns
The plan aims to allow students to walk the length and breadth of Israel.
out that they are already well underway.

A full outline of the plan will be presented to ministers at next Sunday's cabinet meeting. It is estimated to take approximately 6 years to complete.

In his speech to Herzlyia Conference attendees, Netanyahu praised students for their talent and cosmopolitan thinking. But he said these attributes are not enough. He bemoaned the "surroundings of cultural shallowness, of diluted knowledge and spirituality," which he said "dilutes and weakens the national strength."

The antidote, Netanyahu said, is reminding students of their "Zionist heritage," encouraging them to find themselves in the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.  His plan aims to allow them to do so by walking the length and breadth of Israel.

One trail will be called the 'Historic Land of Israel' trail, leading hikers to dozens of ancient archaeological sites.  The other will be the 'Israel Experience' trail, meant to connect hikers with landmarks, museums, and memorials associated with pre-State Jewish settlement in Israel and the fight to create an independent Jewish country.

Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom have already confirmed their cooperation on the project.  
 
MKs from the Knesset Lobby for Judea, Samaria, and Gaza have contacted the Prime Minister to request that he include heritage sites in Judea and Samaria, such as ancient Hebron and Shilo, on his list of locations to restore.

Some of the sites possibly slated for renewal are Qumran, Masada, Tel Meggido, Neot Kedumim, Susia, Tiberias, Tel Lachish, Sde Amudim, Beit She'an, Caesarea National Park, Tel Arad, Tel Dan, and the City of David in Jerusalem.

The program will also include the preservation of documents, songs, poems, and art deemed valuable to Israeli heritage.