Plan for Establishment of ‘youth State’ in Negev Revealed by Eshkol

A plan for the establishment of a “youth state” in the Besor region, arid lands in a 125,000-acre area west of Beersheba, was proposed here today by Levi Eshkel, at a conference of Mapai aimed at formulating pioneering program to attract Israel’s youth. He said the young generation in Israel would be able to set up its own “state” in the area with 15,000 agricultural units in any form of settlement centered about an urban center.

Mr. Eshkol disclosed that his Ministry was already blueprinting the project which, he said, would give fuller economic and social life to Israeli youth who could establish a movement based on this task. The Finance Minister urged Mapai to call on the youth to settle the region when the plans were completed and when the Negev water pipeline was ready for use. He stressed that, while Mapai would initiate the project, it would be carried out by the State and the distribution of lands would not be along party lines.

Author Izhar Smilanski, in an address to the conference, described Israel’s youth as the “Espresso Generation” whose only thoughts centered about where to go out in the evenings. Deputy Minister of Defence Shimon Peres bemoaned the fact that Israeli youth lacked a pioneering spirit. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion is scheduled to address the conference this week.

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