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Il30m Project Launched to Rescue Jerusalem Corridor Settlements

The Jewish National Fund, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Housing has launched a three-year, IL 30 million project aimed at rescuing 42 Jerusalem Corridor settlements from stagnation and poverty, it was disclosed today. The settlements were all founded in the early 1950s, shortly after Israel’s war for independence, when defense requirements and the need to rapidly populate the western approaches to Jerusalem were given priority over problems of long term development.

The Jerusalem Corridor was so named because it served as the main artery supplying beleaguered Jerusalem during the 1948 war. Until the Six-Day War it was a narrow strip hemmed in by the Jordanian-occupied West Bank.

The hasty nature of the settlement of the region resulted in poor housing, poor roads and the lack of a proper infrastructure for the chain of settlements. The terrain, moreover, Is hilly, rocky and largely non-arable. The land is suitable only for poultry raising which became the mainstay of the region’s economy. But even that has proven Insufficient. A visit to many of the moshavim (small holders settlements) in the Corridor discloses small, ramshackle chicken coops of rusted wire and rotting boards leaning against cramped, deteriorating one and two-room homes.

WORK ALREADY UNDER WAY

Each family possesses about a half acre of land which is insufficient to generate an adequate income. According to Gershon Avni, of the JNF’s Land Development Authority, the only solution is to “build new settlements on the site of the old.”

The joint project envisions widening and levelling the land holdings of each family, construction of new interior roads, modern poultry runs and hatcheries, anti-erosion walls, a proper drainage system and extensive landscaping. This must be done without interfering with the daily life routine of the settlers, Avni said.

The JNF plans to enlarge each farm unit by about a half acre. Hilltops are already being levelled off, cliffs cut away and ravines filled. A prototype for the future is Kesalon where newly levelled earth fills seem to hang over deep green canyons. Every inch of the hilltops is utilized. Homes are surrounded by lawns and gardens and are separated from the chicken coops. New approach roads lead to each farm unit.

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