Eilat mayor offers scholarships to create 'university city'

Halevi also describes his dream for a greener Eilat, which includes a covered ice-skating rink.

eilat tourism 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post [file])
eilat tourism 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post [file])
Eilat will soon be a "university city just like Beersheba," the Red Sea town's Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi said on Wednesday. The city, he said, would offer scholarships to students who wished to study in Eilat, to create an atmosphere similar to that at Ben-Gurion University, which has attracted thousands of students from around the country to Beersheba. Ben-Gurion University already has a campus in Eilat, and Halevi said the number of students there would also increase in the near future. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, the mayor described his dream for a greener Eilat, adding that he also wanted to set up an ice skating rink that would be covered by a roof consisting solely of solar panels. Turning to other issues, the mayor said Eilat's zero tolerance antiviolence campaign had proved successful, but hadn't run as smoothly as one would have hoped. Although the city had cleared its beach front of many criminals, including drug dealers, and homeless people, several city leaders, including himself, had had grenades thrown at their homes, Halevi said. "Those who committed the attack," he said, "weren't too happy about having their places of business tampered with." Asked whether the government was spending enough to solve the problem, Halevi said that money would not be enough. A committee had been established to investigate the issue, Halevi said, and more needed to be done to educate people. Although Eilat was ready to take in Sudanese refugees - the city is already home to at least 300 - it faced great difficulties in absorbing them, the mayor told the Post. The father is usually the only member of a refugee family able to work, he said, which means the city had to fill in this gap. The country, he said, needed to develop a more organized system of absorbing the refugees before cities were able to house more. The municipal council has excellent ties with its Jordanian counterparts in nearby Aqaba. Nine joint Israeli-Jordanian committees focus on subjects including the environment, marine ecology and education. Halevi told the Post Eilat had provided a wide range of scientific assistance to Aqaba, citing both recent storms and serious mosquito problems as examples of problems which had been addressed. The two cities had shared large amounts of information on these topics, Halevi said.