The “appropriate Zionist response” to Israel's enemies is not only to overcome them in battle, but also to develop Israel, and in the current situation that means building and developing the communities in the South and near the Gaza border, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

Netanyahu's comments came before the weekly cabinet meeting, held this time in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council offices.  

During the meeting the cabinet ministers are expected to approve a 2 percent budget cut in their ministries to pay for Operation Protective Edge. The only ministry not to be affected will be the Defense Ministry, which is expected to get a large budget increase.

“We are starting to fill in what is lacking in the defense budget,” Netanyahu said. “As we saw recently, defense comes before all else.”

Netanyahu laid out the bare parameters of a plan to rehabilitate and develop the South.

“First of all, to help Sderot and the Gaza envelope communities through a five year NIS 1.5 billion pan.”  This would go not only to the rehabilitation of the agriculture in the area, but also – he said – to the development of local industry, as well as “security infrastructure.”

Secondly, he said, a similar package will be brought within the month for the other communities in the South.

Thirdly, he said, “we will start to fill in what is missing in the defense establishment. This reflects  our understanding of the priorities, with security coming before all else.  We did great things, but this requires us to roll up our sleeves to enable the IDF, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), and the security services to continue to defend Israel effectively.”

The heads of the Eshkol, Sdot Negev, Sha'ar Negev, and Ashkelon regional councils attended the meeting.  Netanyahu said their “leadership and patience allowed us to manage the campaign responsibly and aggressively to restore security to the citizens of Israel."

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