(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The Israeli cabinet is set to vote Sunday on a plan for increased development in the Negev Desert, including the establishment of 22 new communities.
The new plan, nicknamed the "Negev Progress Plan," references the Jewish Agency's historic 11 Points in the Negev plan, which established 11 settlements in 1946. The new plan will establish settlements from Sderot to Yeruham, near the original 11.
According to the new plan, the Negev's population will grow by about 500,000, reaching about 1.8 million residents by 2035. According to demographic forecasts, Israel's population as a whole is expected to grow to 12 million by 2035.
The plan will involve building about 490,000 new housing units in the Negev, 17,000 of them in the new communities, as well as repairing existing housing units. Twenty-two communities will be established, with minimal environmental impact, at least seven of them Bedouin communities. The rest will be regular communities for the general population, including the Bedouin.
"The Negev development plan is a long-term plan, but its initial implementation is expected to yield benefits for the Negev in the short term as well," said Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel.