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Israel’s Cabinet advances plan to develop Sderot, Gaza border towns

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved a nearly $364 million plan to develop the southern city of Sderot and communities on the border with Gaza.

The five-year plan approved Sunday at the regular weekly Cabinet meeting, which was held in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, includes funds for the economic, social and communal development of the area. The Cabinet also approved $56 million for security infrastructure and protection.

To fund the plan, the Cabinet also voted for a 2 percent cut across all government ministries, except defense. The Education Ministry would face the largest at $1.35 billion. The cuts must gain approval of the full Knesset.

Three government ministers — Silvan Shalom (energy and water), Naftali Bennett (economy) and Uri Orbach (pension affairs) — abstained in the vote. Ministers Uri Ariel (housing and construction) and Amir Peretz (environmental protection) voted against the package.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in comments before the meeting said the Cabinet would submit a similar package for the development of the entire southern Israel in the coming month.

“We are committed to them, we have always been committed to them. In recent years there has been accelerated development in the South; we want to strengthen it,” Netanyahu said. “The Zionist answer to those who seek our lives is not only to rebuff them and overcome them in any campaign but also to develop our state, in this case the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and in the South, and to develop the Negev as a whole.”

Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi was joined at the Cabinet meeting by regional council chairs from areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip – Hof Ashkelon’s Yair Farjun, Eshkol’s Chaim Jelin, Shaar Hanegev’s Alon Schuster and Sdot Negev’s Tamir Idan.

 

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