Gov’t presents draft plan for rehabilitating north

Better late than never? The government presented its “Northwards” program “for immediate and near-term solutions for the northern region” today. At a meeting held in Nazareth, local authority heads in the north were presented with the details of the plan, which is shortly due to be approved by the government.


The plan lays the groundwork for the activity of a coordinating body that will provide a response to residents of settlements on the northern border who have been evacuated since the start of the Swords of Iron war more than six months ago, because of the threat from Lebanon posed by the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

The proposal is for the formation of a team of directors general of government ministries, headed by the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office Yossi Shelley, that will monitor implementation of the plan. Alongside this team will be a “Northwards staff” for the rehabilitation and long-term development of the northern region, authorized to coordinate the work of monitoring and controlling the program. It will consist of ten posts in the Prime Minister’s Office, and will operate for five years from the date that the plan is approved.

At the end of December, “Globes” reported that the government was examining the possibility of allocating temporary accommodation to those evacuated from the northern settlements, on similar lines to the solutions provided to those evacuated from the south. For the first time, the current plan talks about this explicitly.

NIS 5 million will be allocated for “planning the construction of temporary sites with the aim of providing a solution for settlements that need a collective long-term housing solution.” The plan also states that within 45 days a work plan will be formulated under the leadership of the director general of the Ministry of Construction and Housing “for finding community housing solutions for settlements that wish it, as close as possible to schools and employment.”

Many northern residents are still living in hotels around Israel. Others have found housing solutions outside of the hotels, individually and independently. Now, six months after the outbreak of war, the state is declaring that it will take part in the effort.

At the end of January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at a meeting of the security cabinet that he would allocate NIS 3.5 billion to a plan for rehabilitating the north, but the current draft government decision allocates a smaller sum, NIS 3 billion, for the period 2025-2028 “to fund the strategic plan for the north.”

What else does the plan contain? Setting up a university in Kiryat Shemona within three years, in line with the decision of the Council for Higher Education of September 2022; setting up a medical center to serve all residents of the north; protection for agricultural and industrial areas next to the border fence; recommissioning of public air-raid shelters at a cost of NIS 100 million; additional community security measures, budgeted at NIS 500 million; and implementation of the “Shield of the North” plan for protection of settlements along the border (up to nine kilometers from it) with a NIS 1.4 billion budget from the Ministry of Defense. The plan also contains the formulation of community programs for improving the appearance of settlements and strengthening their infrastructure, and detailed planning for demolition and rebuild schemes, especially for structures damaged in the war, budgeted at NIS 35 million.

The plan also includes a general timetable: “the immediate term” is defined as the period from approval of the decision until the opening the next school year; the “near term” is defined as the period from approval of the decision to the return of northern residents to their settlements. The status of initial execution of the plan will be presented to the government within 40 days.

Mateh Asher Regional Council and chairperson of the Confrontation Line Forum Moshe Davidovich said at the end of the meeting, “At this stage, the draft presented to us still fails to provide an answer for the overarching aim of strengthening and developing the confrontation line, both in the size of the budget and also, in fact mainly, in the absence of substantial policy changes critical to healing the economic, social, and psychological rupture that the region has experienced. I believe that the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office and his ministry’s team, who listened attentively, will, together with us, come up with a suitable proposal for strengthening the confrontation line.”

Published by Globes, Israel business news – – on April 11, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

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