Netanyahu: Budget for development of South shows we’re here to stay

Netanyahu noted the project calls for the largest investment in the South in the country’s history.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Less than a month after the end of Operation Protective Edge, the cabinet on Sunday will discuss a NIS 2 billion development plan that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says will send a clear message to Hamas.
At a meeting on Thursday with local council heads, Netanyahu said the fiveyear program (2015-2020) tells Hamas: “You think you will chase us away? Not only will you not chase us away, we will build and be built and get stronger in all parts of our land.”
Netanyahu noted the project calls for the largest investment in the South in the country’s history, and includes the communities adjoining the Gaza border that were badly hit by rocket and mortar fire this summer.
The explanatory material provided the ministers states that, “Reducing the gaps and strengthening the periphery in general, and the South in particular, is a central element of this government’s policies.”
In addition to building a new hospital in Beersheba and strengthening health services in the South, the plan calls for the establishment of an online commerce platform to promote e-commerce and Internet marketing for small and medium- sized businesses in the region.
Under the plan, assistance would be provided for businesses to sell online, allowing them to increase their sales potential and help them recover from this summer’s crisis.
In the first stage, some 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses within 40 km. from the Gaza border are expected to participate. They will be provided with courses on e-commerce, professional advice, and funding of up to NIS 16,000 to establish their businesses online.
In the industrial sphere, under the program NIS 60 million in grants and incentives would be provided to small and medium-sized factories in the South, and another NIS 60m. would be provided to factories to hire new workers.
Some NIS 55m. would be spent to train engineers and students studying exact sciences for the benefit of the expanding hi-tech industry in the Negev.
Another NIS 120m. would be spent on getting industries in the South to transition to natural gas for greater energy efficiency.
In the field of social welfare, the program calls for an additional NIS 60m.
to be budgeted to local authorities to bolster social services in poorer communities.
Another NIS 40m. would be earmarked for investment in tourism infrastructure, with an emphasis on the boardwalk in Ashkelon and the Ramon Crater near Mitzpe Ramon. In addition, NIS 85m. would be earmarked to the local councils for the promotion of festivals, and cultural and leisure activities.
Some NIS 180m. would be budgeted to promote economic development in the Beduin communities, including money for education, water, roads, agricultural development, and the development of rural tourism.
Finally, fully half a billion shekels would be allocated for transportation infrastructure in the South, including paving and expanding roads, something meant to ease the transition of a number of key IDF bases to the Negev in the coming years.