Barkat Offers Israeli Alternative to Bahrain Plan

MK Nir Barkat. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

In the wake of last week’s Bahrain economic conference to provide financial assistance and opportunity for Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, Likud MK and former Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat has presented a plan to boost the economy of Jewish towns in Yehudah and Shomron. Barkat has presented the plan to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was said to be very interested in it.

The plan covers strengthening the entire periphery of Israel – Yehudah and Shomron, as well as the Negev, Galilee and Golan. The plan includes providing assistance and opportunities in the areas of tourism, high-tech, agricultural technology, and other areas.

The plan is based on estimations that within 30 years, there will be 17 million people living in Israel, all of whom will need housing and jobs. The plan foresees establishing new industrial zones and employment centers throughout Yehudah and Shomron, providing an additional 250,000 jobs, for both Jews and Arabs. Incentives will be provided to encourage Israelis both to work and live in peripheral areas, including Yehudah and Shomron. The plan will entail both private investment, as well as NIS 120 million in funding for tourism and NIS 180 million in investment in industry. According to the plan, that investment will yield the government NIS 5 billion in returns.

“Investment in Area C, under Israeli military and civilian control, will be much more effective than investment in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas,” Barkat said of the plan. “There is much more security, better infrastructure, and higher-quality personnel in Israeli areas. In addition, the plan can be executed immediately, without requiring agreement or permission of any other entity. By 2048, the Jewish and Arab population of Yehudah and Shomron will grow significantly. If we do not develop plans now, the country will collapse on itself in the center. This plan represents a dramatic opportunity for cooperation between Arabs and Jews, which will bring new work and opportunities to both sides.

“The American plan is interesting, but concentrates only on the Palestinian side,” Barkat said. “It ignores the presence of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Yehudah and Shomron. Development of Area C will contribute to the welfare of Arabs, as well as strengthening the Jewish presence in the area.”

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