An IDF exercise in the South tanks helicopters 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters)
In a major effort to boost development of the Negev, the government on Sunday
okayed the allocation of NIS 19 billion to transfer IDF bases there from the
center of the country.
The move is to be completed by 2019 and will
include the transfer of Intelligence Corps units to the Lakit-Omer installation,
and communications bases to the science park in Beersheba.
Close to half
of the move will be paid for by the Finance Ministry, and another NIS 4b. will
come from the Defense Ministry.
The rest will be covered by the sale of
land currently used by the units.
According to a government statement
issued after Sunday’s cabinet meeting, the move will enable the construction of
tens of thousands of housing units on evacuated land, and will also facilitate
the creation of jobs and the transfer of “quality” people to the Negev “where
they will contribute to the social development of the area.”
the statement, the moves were delayed due to budgetary
“The government approved the project of moving IDF units
in 2005, but the heart of the move – Intelligence Corps and communication units
– was delayed due to a disagreement between the relevant ministries over the
size and sources of the necessary budgets,” the statement said. It added that
Sunday’s decision will make the move south possible.
“This historic step
will greatly contribute to the IDF and the security establishment, as well as to
the Negev and its residents,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the cabinet the move signified
the country’s commitment to the development of the Negev, and that it now viewed
the area not as a burden, but as a strategic asset.
According to Barak,
some 25,000 soldiers will be affected by the move, doubling the number of IDF
personnel already in the South and increasing the number of career officers
there by a third.