PM: Important IDF bases to move from Center to Negev

Netanyahu says funding for project to come from valuable property freed up by move; Barak expects more than 25,000 soldiers will serve in Negev.

Netanyahu in Knesset alone 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu in Knesset alone 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the government is planning to move "the most important IDF bases from the center of the country to the south."
During the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that the move provides two important benefits: Decentralizing the country's populous center, and also providing fuel for the development of southern communities in "industry, construction and culture in all its aspects."
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Netanyahu mentioned that the project will receive financial aid from the highly valuable property freed up in the bases' move.
Last Wednesday, the Prime Minister's Office allocated NIS 19 million to the project. Though it had been approved in 2005, the move was bogged down by disagreements between various ministries concerning funding.
The prime minister also stressed the move's benefits to the Negev region, saying that the country's south is "still waiting for large-scale development," and that the IDF has the "qualitative core" to help initiate the momentum to develop the Negev.
According to the prime minister, the move also "adds to our national security."
"We are very concentrated in the center of the country; therefore, we must decentralize our national life in all main areas, with the IDF and security first and foremost."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also commented on the project's future, saying that the IDF ought to work to double its presence in the Negev, and help develop the region. "The IDF holds a national opportunity for growth and establishment of the Negev, which is no longer a burden but rather a strategic asset for the State of Israel."
Barak said that the number of soldiers in the southern desert will likely rise to above 25,000 military personnel.