Galilee campaign draws wide interest

Just one week after its launch last Thursday, the government campaign promoting populating the Galilee appears to be generating quite a bit of attention, as about 1,800 families have turned to the Galilee Development Authority expressing interest in relocating to the region. According to the data released midweek, 81 percent of the interested parties live in central Israel or in Jerusalem and its surrounding communities. The campaign, titled 'Hagalil Karov Eilecha' (The Galilee is close to you), is directed by the office of Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres and the Galilee Development Authority. It offers financial incentives such as a 13% reduction in income tax, lower municipal taxes and affordable mortgages. Over 10,000 housing units were made available for newcomers in 104 communities across the Galilee. In addition, there are 2,500 job openings in the region, of them 1,810 are for college graduates. Peres said his office would demand that the government change its budget priorities and allocate 'significantly' more funds to develop the Galilee and improve the incentives for those who choose the region as their new home. According to Peres's office, over 16,000 Internet pages of related Web sites were viewed. The data also showed that the vast majority (87%) of the potential future residents asked to live in secular communities, but 6.5% said they preferred mixed communities and another 6.5% opted for religious communities. In addition, most of them (63%) are between the ages of 26 and 35 and over half are married with at least one child. Interior Minister Ophir Paz-Pines said he also planned to demand that the government amend its list of priorities. "Until today, the emphasis was placed on Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Now there are different priorities; the Galilee and the Negev should be at the top of the list," he told Army Radio.