Mayor: We're willing to close off northern Israel

Kiryat Shmona mayor comes to Knesset, tells municipal heads to protest cancelling aid package for northern Israel.

Hezki Baruch,

Kiryat Shmona mayor Nissim Malka
Kiryat Shmona mayor Nissim Malka
צילום: חזקי ברוך

Kiryat Shmona mayor Nissim Malka told Arutz Sheva about the struggle of northern Israel's residents and about the Treasury's plan to cancel the aid package intended for northern municipalities.

Both northern and southern Israel are considered to be "periphery," with lower incomes, fewer jobs, less academics per capita, and less centralized, more isolated communities.

In addition, the entire north of Israel is under near-constant threat of spillover from Syria and possible war with Israel's northern neighbors. Unlike much of the south, in which residents have between 30 and 90 seconds to enter a bomb shelter before the rockets hit, northern Israel has between 0 and 60 seconds before a rocket explodes.

Malka explained his purpose in visiting the Knesset, saying, "They've forgotten about the north. They forgot the planned budget of 12 billion shekel, and completely erased it in order to pacify various political parties."

"Someone felt it was easier to simply erase the budget meant for the residents of the north because 'the north doesn't interest anyone.' We say that yes, the north needs to interest the State of Israel.

"The north needs to be Israel's powerhouse, and especially Kiryat Shmona, which is the city I'm representing and which sits on the very edge of Israel's northern border. Kiryat Shmona has always acted as a shield for the rest of the State of Israel. You can't forget about the north today, and you have to ensure the proper budgets are allocated for it," Malka said.

Mayor Malka also said plans had already been made for various areas which needed the money and the plans had been approved by various government offices. According to the plans, the eastern Galilee would receive research and science institutes, as well as develop a hi-tech industry. The plans aim to bring back some of the younger population that had deserted the north earlier when faced with a lack of jobs.

"I'm very worried about the neglect and lack of seriousness and concern shown by the Knesset towards anything and everything happening in the north," Malka said, explaining what the next steps would look like if the north's requests were denied.

"This won't be our last word, this was our first shot and every day we'll work harder, even if it means we end up closing off cities. We won't allow anyone into any Galilee cities," he concluded.

In 2015, the Israeli government announced plans to build "the next Modi'in" in Israel's north, but little has been done to forward that goal.




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