At a pre-Rosh Hashanah celebration event Thursday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told hundreds of mayors and municipal officials that his government has accomplished a great deal in developing the infrastructure of Israel – and will continue building in the future. “We developed a NIS 30 billion multi-year budget and used it to build highways and railroads in the north and the south, connecting the entire country. By the time we are finished a driver will be able to drive from Kiryat Shemona to Eilat and not come across even one stoplight. We will even have a single train line between those points,” Netanyahu said.
That his description of Israel’s progress was an accurate one is clear to many Israelis, who, traveling abroad, observed the transportation infrastructure in other countries. “Israelis travel all over the world, so they can compare. Once when we went abroad we said ‘we need to learn from them,’ but now when we come home you see how we have developed.”
One term that Netanyahu never liked, he said was “development town,” referring to peripheral cities where the population was generally of the lower socio-economic strata. “The immigrants who were sent to these cities faced many challenges, and now these cities have grown and developed.” In Dimona, for example – a former development town in southern Israel – the change has been profound. In the past, he said, the Mayor of Dimona, Gabu Laloush, “asked me to seal the empty apartments there, and today there is a building boom there. We are planning for 100,000 residents. Dimona, and not just that city, has towers and tall buildings.”
On his way down south earlier this week, Netanyahu flew over Dimona in a helicopter, “and I was able to see the radical change in the Negev.” And “I am just as committed to the Galilee,” the Prime Minister said. “I am a big fan of the vision of David Ben-Gurion that the periphery and the Negev must be developed, but with one minor change – that it not be just government money that is invested, but money from the private market as well. For us, development of the periphery is not just a slogan,” he added.