Despite criticism from the Ministry of Finance and Israel's planning bodies, the government approved seven new settlements for the Negev today. The proposal came from Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked and Minister of Housing and Construction Ze'ev Elkin.
The plan covers Ir Avot, a new urban settlement north of Lehavim that will have 15,000 housing units for a population of about 80,000; five additional new settlements with 10,000 housing units; and an industrial zone along the Beersheva-Dimona route (Road 25).
A statement on behalf of Shaked said, "These unprecedented government decisions represent a significant step in strengthening settlement in the Negev, with an emphasis on the Beersheva-Dimona route, an area of strategic security and national importance."
Two weeks ago, the government approved the construction of five settlements near Arad, and a month ago it approved the construction of Kesif and Nitzana, all this despite objections by the planning authorities and the Ministry of Finance. At the recent "Globes" Real Estate Conference, Shaked said, "Both I and the minister of housing think that where the Negev is concerned the reality is different, and the considerations are not just economic and environmental, but considerations that go beyond all that - we want to strengthen the Negev with Jewish settlement, and it is necessary to hold the territory and strengthen governance."
It should be stressed that while the decision has been made, it will take several years until these settlements actually materialize, although the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization estimates that it will happen within three to four years.
"'We were as dreamers,'" Shaked said today. "Within less than a month, the government of Israel has approved fourteen new settlements in the Negev. After years of a policy of no construction, the Negev has come back to life. This is an important, strategic step of the highest order. Beyond the Zionist value of holding onto state land in the Negev, it has very high security importance. Precisely in the face of all the recent security events, the government of Israel is establishing an urban continuum on the ground, staking its claim, and starting to build Jewish settlements in the Negev. I find this moving personally, and I feel a real sense of mission to fulfil the vision of Ben Gurion."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 10, 2022.
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