Knesset Cabinet approves fiber optics enterprise

In areas where fiber optics have been introduced, the number of start-ups increased by 5%, the cost of living fell drastically and peripheral areas were significantly strengthened.

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER and Derech Eretz Party chairman Yoaz Hendel. (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER and Derech Eretz Party chairman Yoaz Hendel.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
In parallel with the enormous health and economic crises we are currently experiencing here in Israel, this week I heard the wings of history flapping.
Not only from the South Lawn of the White House, but also from within the Knesset cabinet meeting room. Following an uncompromising political effort, we’ve finally succeeded in passing the “Fast Internet Outline,” or as it’s officially known: The Fiber Optic Outline.
Let’s begin with a short explanation: Israel lags a decade behind in the field of communications infrastructure. We are ranked among the lowest for mobile phone speed compared to other countries around the world (99), and are also far behind with respect to home Internet surfing speed.
We must keep in mind that the amount of information that passes through communication infrastructure is only going to keep increasing. Think about what the smartphone you had three years ago was able to do, and compare that with what your phone can accomplish today.
The State of Israel as it is today can be likened to a narrow dirt road upon which more and more luxury cars are driving. Our main task is to transform our country into a cutting-edge highway that is fitting for the Start-Up Nation.
Whoever thinks that infrastructure is an extravagance in the modern age of fast Internet and smartphones that enable us to take the office with us anywhere we go is wrong. Communication infrastructure is the basis for economic growth and progress.
This infrastructure creates job opportunities and the possibility of improving our quality of life. It’s a means for connecting people; enabling people living in the Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley and El-Khalasa in the Negev to having better quality of life;
empowering computer programmers to live in the Negev and still be able to work with someone in San Francisco in real time or making it possible for a surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York to operate on a patient at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem (or vice versa), since there won’t be any delay and the information can be transmitted immediately in real time.
Data coming to us from around the world shows that, in places where there’s advanced communication infrastructure, the GDP has increased by 1% (at least NIS 10 billion) and the job market has grown by 3%.
In areas where fiber optics have been introduced, the number of start-ups increased by 5%, the cost of living fell drastically and peripheral areas were significantly strengthened. In other words: Modern Zionism.
This week’s decision disengaged the bottleneck that has been stuck for too long.
It’s easy to explain now during the COVID-19 crisis why Israeli citizens need to have access to broadband Internet access in order to work from home, to home school (for a few children simultaneously) and to receive remote medical care.
But this move is not just important for the present day while we’re in the midst of the pandemic.
It’s important for our future, because Israeli hi-tech companies are leaving the country due to a lack of infrastructure, since many companies want their employees to be able to work from home all year long or work with clients overseas.
And yes – it’s also important for kids who want to play video games, write computer programs or download a movie in just a second and a half.  
Most people don’t know what fiber optics or broadband Internet are, or understand the importance of the wholesale market.
But where other people see cables, fibers and antennas, my colleagues at the Communications Ministry and I see the fulfillment of the Zionist dream. Just like the pioneers who stood at Mishmar Hanegev and gazed out upon the desolate sand, who saw a vision before their eyes of a flowering desert.
“The plow line is what demarcates the border.” This is what the people who built our country used to say. Now, the fiber line is what demarcates the border.
From the moment I took on my role at the ministry, I understood that my main task was to reduce the infrastructure gap and to lead the entire country into the era of upgraded infrastructure.
It is a great privilege for me to make this revolution happen.
The political reality here in Israel is complicated and petty. There is extensive mistrust of the government as a result of how it’s handled the COVID-19 crisis.
There are just claims and complex tasks. I’ve taken it upon myself to help stabilize the government as much as I can – to calm things down, to reduce the amount of unjustified hatred and to help Israel progress in the areas under my jurisdiction.
I pray that I will be able to reduce the level of hatred and that the people of Israel will come together and support each other. This is not just out of political necessity, but because it is a Jewish ideal.
These are Sisyphean tasks that are extremely hard to perform, and the laying down of advanced communication infrastructure is probably one of the most difficult. For that reason, I feel enormous gratitude that we will be able to complete our mission.
I’d like to mention one more issue that relates to how we can unite the Israeli nation.
I opposed joining forces with the Joint List because, in my opinion, someone who does not recognize Israel’s founding ideology as a Jewish democratic country cannot be my partner.
Not the Balad Party, which has a long history of anti-Israel incidents, nor the Kahanists either.
That does not mean I don’t feel completely committed to deploying communication infrastructure in Arab cities or in any other community. Integrating minorities and taking care of underprivileged citizens is our obligation as a nation.
We have a great opportunity before us to unify all of Israel, to reduce the gap between us through technology, to offer equal rights to everyone throughout the country, including places like Ofra and Rahat, and like Be’er Malka in the South and Shtula in the North.
I believe that this is the way to create a just and safe society, to promote Zionist values and ensure that everyone – including those who live far from central Israel – can live comfortable livesn