Ayelet Shaked
Ayelet ShakedYonatan Sindel/Flash90

On Sunday, the Israeli government authorized the establishment of five new towns in the northern Negev, the settlements of Mevo'ot Arad.

The decision to establish the new towns was made only after extensive staff work was completed, and following the recommendation of the National Council of Planning and Construction.

Five rural settlements are now set to be established in the southeastern region of Mevo'ot Arad. In accordance with the recommendation of the National Council, one of the five settlements will be earmarked for the Bedouin population.

The government's decision was based on its assessment of the importance of settling the area to the north-east of the Beer Sheva metropolitan area, and of creating a continuum of settlement continuum in the area between Meitar and Arad.

The establishment of the new communities also conforms with long-standing government policy regarding investment in the periphery, increasing the supply of housing, and generally strengthening settlement in the area in light of the IDF's move to the Negev.

At the opening of Sunday's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed the development, saying: "Today, the government will approve the establishment of five new communities in the Negev. This is important news for all residents of the area and is part of the process of organizing this part of the country, which has been neglected for so many years.

"Our goal is to return the state to the Negev – Zionism 2022. This is neither ex territoria, nor is it the Wild West but a place in which the State of Israel is present – in both governance and resources.

"Our highest obligation is to provide personal security for the residents of the south," he stressed. "We have started on this journey and we will not stop. At the same time, we are continuing to settle and develop the Negev.

"I thank Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Housing Minister Ze'ev Elkin for the good work."

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked also welcomed the government's decision, saying: "Today we authorized the second part of one of the most exciting and historic decisions we have made in all my years in Israeli government. Ben-Gurion said that 'The Israeli people will be judged by the Negev,' and we are definitely implementing his vision."

Shaked added, "Settling the Negev has great Zionist importance, but more than that, this decision has enormous strategic importance for strengthening governance in the Negev. These new settlements will make a large contribution to the Zionist enterprise and to the encouragement of new and young settlements alike. My congratulations to the Negev and to the State of Israel. "

Minister of Construction and Housing Zeev Elkin then spoke, saying: "Promoting the establishment of new settlements in the Negev is the vision of Zionist settlement. The establishment of new settlements will move residents from the center of the country toward the south, strengthening the economy in the Negev region and increasing security there."

The Regavim movement also welcomed the government's decision. "The Mevo'ot Arad area is a strategic area for the State of Israel, and its strengthening through the establishment of new settlements is a Zionist act and one that promotes the Settlement Enterprise, furthering the flourishing of the Negev in a wise and well thought-out manner. We congratulate Minister Shaked for spearheading this move."

Regavim also welcomed the establishment of the planned settlement for the Bedouin public, with the proviso that it would be established in accordance with the planning criteria set for the establishment of the other new settlements in Mevoot Arad, and subject to the "convergence model" for new Bedouin settlements formulated by the current government.