The Cabinet, at its weekly meeting Sunday in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council area, approved a 1.3 billion shekel five-year plan for the economic, social and communal development of Sderot and the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The plan was submitted by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and Finance Minister Yair Lapid. The Cabinet also approved a NIS 200 million plan for security infrastructure and protective components.
Council heads from the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip – Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Chairman Yair Farjun, Eshkol Regional Council Chairman Chaim Yelin, Shaar Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Alon Schuster, Sdot Negev Regional Council Chairman Tamir Idan and Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi – attended today's meeting.
In addition to the foregoing decision, working teams are currently working on a long-range socio-economic development plan for all southern communities; it will be submitted for Cabinet approval before the Rosh Hashanah holiday. Moreover, communities in the south, including the larger cities, have already begun to receive compensation for the direct damages they suffered during Operation Protective Edge.
The additional plan for the development of the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and the strengthening of the communities near the fence is designed to provide economic, industrial, agricultural, construction and social welfare growth engines. The plan will include incentives for rural settlement, the upgrading of infrastructures in the communities, incentives for employment and anchors for agricultural development. The Cabinet intends to approve investments and additional government assistance to the area in order to encourage economic growth and strengthen communal settlement in the area. Since 2009, there has been continual growth in the number of residents in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Steps by the current Government have been designed to ensure that this demographic growth is sustained in the coming years, the Goverment Press Office said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the start of today's meeting;
"I would like to commend our host, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Chairman Yair Farjun and the mayors and regional council chairmen, our friends from the south. It was your leadership and patience that gave us much strength to lead this campaign with responsibility, sagacity and great determination, as well as with considerable vigor, in order to restore security to Israel's citizens. This was, and remains, our supreme concern. We will make three decisions. Our first decision will be to assist – with a NIS 1.5 billion five-year plan – Sderot and the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The intention is not only to rehabilitate agriculture and repair damage which has been done but also to assist industrial, economic and agricultural development, and of course the construction of additional security infrastructures. This is the first commitment and it will be realized today.
The second thing is that this month we will submit a similar package for the development of the cities and communities of the south. We are committed to them, we have always been committed to them. In recent years there has been accelerated development in the south; we want to strengthen it. The Zionist answer to those who seek our lives is not only to rebuff them and overcome them in any campaign but also to develop our state, in this case the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and in the south, and to develop the Negev as a whole.
The third thing that we will do today is to fill in the gaps. We will start to fill in the gaps that have been created in security. This reflects our understanding about the order of priorities in security is first and foremost. We have done very great things here but this requires us to make a redoubled effort to allow the IDF, ISA and the security arms to continue to efficiently protect the State of Israel."
Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Chairman Farjun commended Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to hold today's Cabinet meeting in the south.