Rivlin: More Settlement in Galilee, Negev is Key to Israel’s Future

The urgent need to provide suitable land for increased Jewish settlement in the Galilee and the Negev was stressed by Jewish National Fund world chairman Moshe Rivlin in recent meetings here with Zionist leaders, journalists, and members of the JNF’s National Leadership Council.

Rivlin, who was in the U.S. on a JNF informational and fund-raising tour, said that despite the new Israeli government’s emphasis on belt-tightening and budget cuts, the priorities of land reclamation and settlement-site preparation must be maintained to guarantee that “Israel will have a future.” He cited three major areas of JNF concern and action in the months ahead:

* JNF must answer the “cry of the desert” with intensified afforestation efforts to complete a green belt extending far into Israel’s south and delineating the Negev with the “green gift of new life.” Rivlin said that 20 million trees have been planted in the Negev, and forests such as Lahav and Yatir have been created there.

* In the Galilee, he said, JNF must push ahead with its program of settlement-site preparation, paving the way for Israel’s newest pioneers on the land at a series of settlement outposts that will anchor the Jewish presence there.

“The establishment of each new village helps insure that the Galilee, which is so vital to Israel’s security, will remain an integral part of the state of Israel,” Rivlin said. He pointed out that “wherever trees are planted in Galilee, there are no illegal squatters or unauthorized grazing. The land is safeguarded.”

In Galilee, JNF is helping to convince Arab residents that afforestation is of mutual interest and enhances life for all communities in Israel. JNF, Rivlin explained, is also continuing with the development of three Galilee industrial regions — Segev, Zalmon and Tefen. All of these activities contribute to the increase of the Jewish population.

* Rivlin said that JNF’s work in providing tourist facilities near Eilat, at Timna Park, on the Mediterranean coast, and in Galilee will continue apace. New parklands, beach fronts, recreation areas, camp grounds, and other assets will be developed to make Israel an attractive and welcome resort for visitors from abroad and for domestic tourism.

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