Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked participated in a meeting of local authority heads and deputies on Thursday, and announced that later this month, the government would be making a decision regarding the establishment of between seven and twelve new communities in the Negev region.
"I had to fight a large number of officials opposed to this plan," Shaked related, "but this is a plan that I see as vital in order to strengthen our hold on the Negev. We already have a housing shortage in the country, and what will happen when new immigrants from Russia and Ukraine arrive? We were already trying to build here as fast as possible," Shaked claimed, "and now we have to build even faster and more aggressively, and also to expand our existing communities, of course."
Shaked also called on local authority heads to make preparations for the absorption of new immigrants. "We are expecting tens if not hundreds of thousands of people to arrive from Russia, Ukraine, and other countries in that region. You can help with this," she told her audience.
Addressing the agricultural reforms the government is planning, Shaked noted that, "We can see now how important it is to ensure food security. The global order can change in a matter of days, and Israel has to be independent in this area too. I hope very much - in fact, I am confident that the reforms we are going to implement will strengthen Israeli agriculture and not harm it."
Shai Hajiji, head of the Merhavim Regional Council, thanked Shaked and asked her to use her influence to ensure that Israel's farmers are permitted to grow sufficient produce to cater to the domestic market. "Just this morning, we read about an increase of 37 percent in the price of eggs imported from Europe," he noted, "due to the war in Ukraine. Israel must be able to independently produce the food we need."