African migrants in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The government will declare south Tel Aviv as a national-priority area in light of the high number of asylum-seekers living there, according to a proposal that will be brought to the government next week by Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Gallant.
According to the proposal, certain areas will be declared national priorities in accordance to the proportion of asylum seekers living in them. As such, the first local authority to receive benefits worth tens of millions of shekels will be Tel Aviv. Residents of the relevant neighborhoods in the city, as well as of other cities with high populations of migrants, will receive benefits and assistance.
Gallant, who has spearheaded the initiative, told The Jerusalem Post
on Thursday that he hopes the resolution will be passed by the cabinet on Sunday, June 8.
This comes over two months after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touted a new plan for Israel’s migrants, only to cancel it less than 24 hours later. The deal reached between the Prime Minister’s Office and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees stipulated that Israel could deport some 16,000 migrants to Western countries, while granting a “suitable” legal status to some 16,000 others. It also included a plan to rehabilitate south Tel Aviv, which suffers from poor infrastructure, prostitution and drugs.
Gallant’s plan deals exclusively will the rehabilitation of areas with high populations of migrants, and not with the issue of the asylum seekers themselves.
“The basic idea is how to make the lives of the permanent citizens better, without dealing right now – at least not by my office – with what the solution should be for the migrants. Because these are neighborhoods that previously hadn’t been in the best situation and are getting worse and worse. And we have to take care of the people,” Gallant said.
He explained that the plan could run parallel to any government plan “to make sure that those refugees will go back to their homelands. But in the meantime, we have to make sure that those people do not create a situation that is unbearable in the neighborhoods where they are.”
The proposal includes funds from a number of government ministries – construction and housing, interior, culture, education, public security, science and development of the Negev and Galilee – to improve the situation in the neighborhoods.
This will be done through welfare, employment and leisure programs, educational activities and enrichment programs for youth. A focus will be placed on the elderly, at-risk youth, drug addicts and single parents. The proposal also seeks to strength personal security by placing more cameras and sensors on the streets of the neighborhoods, as well as increasing police presence.
Funds will also be funneled into improving infrastructure such as electricity, water, housing and public areas.
Gallant said he has been working on the proposal for about a year, as it took him time to recruit the various ministries.
The government will put NIS 30 million into these plans and the Tel Aviv municipality will roughly match that sum.
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