Program to encourage olim to spread out

Landver: ‘Settling of Negev and Galilee benefits everyone.’

sofa landver 248 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
sofa landver 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The government on Wednesday launched a new pilot program aimed at encouraging new immigrants to settle in cities either north or south of the country’s overcrowded central region. Eleven peripheral cities and towns included in the pilot.
The emphasis on enticing new immigrants to settle outside the country’s biggest urban metropolises comes just four months after the Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced cuts to its community aliya programs for English-speaking olim.
A spokesman for the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, which is sponsoring the new initiative together with the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry, said that there was no connection between the two programs and that this was just another format to promote aliya.
“We see the settling of the Negev and Galilee regions as a real benefit for everyone,” Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said in a statement following the announcement.
“This program, which aims to strengthen communities in the Negev and Galilee, is very important and we are delighted to be partners with the Galilee and the Negev Development Ministry.
“I truly believe that the state must try to strengthen the periphery, and especially encourage young people to move there,” she continued.
Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom said that the program would allow further developments to be made in these regions.
“The goal is to increase housing projects, and strengthen industry and education for new immigrants who want to settle there,” he said.
Aliya organization Nefesh B’Nefesh, which facilitates immigration from the US and Britain, told The Jerusalem Post that it had been working closely with the two ministries for more than a year to encourage Anglo olim to move to towns in the North as part of its Go North program.
“[Go North] is an unprecedented pioneering initiative aimed at encouraging North American and British olim to settle in northern Israel,” a spokeswoman for Nefesh B’Nefesh told the Post. “The unparalleled $10-million project was made possible through a generous gift and partnership with the Russell Berrie Foundation and the Jewish National Fund. It is being strongly supported by both of these ministries.”
According to information released by the two ministries, the program announced this week will cost up to NIS 5,500,000 to implement and will include the absorption of some 212 immigrant families through the end of this year. Those who elect to participate in the program will receive a one-time grant of NIS 1,200 and additional assistance, beyond the standard immigration package, in establishing businesses.
The program will also provide participating municipalities with additional budgets for educational and entertainment services to absorb new immigrants and their children.
Cities that will take part in the pilot over the next six months are Beersheba, Dimona, Tiberias, Karmiel, Migdal Ha’emek, Nahariya, Upper Nazareth, Acre, Arad, Safed and Katzrin, as well as some completely new developments in the Negev and Galilee.
Figures from the Immigrant Absorption Ministry show that some 17,000 new immigrants arrived here in 2009; and while the majority chose to live in central cities, some 2,500 did make their homes