Eilat Major Development Plan Unveiled

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (R) and Eilat Mayor Yitzchak Halevi. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presided over a special cabinet meeting in Eilat on Sunday where he announced a 500-million shekel development for the city and its environs.

“These are not promises; this is immediate money,” Netanyahu declared, enumerating projects for health services, transportation infrastructure, tourist centers, development of sea-based food technology, and a railway line from the center of the country to Eilat.

The prime minister also announced that “we are establishing a ministerial committee on Eilat affairs, which I will chair. I intend to closely monitor implementation of the decisions and to verify the full implementation of what we decide,” he said.

The development plan was formulated by Prime Minister’s Office Acting Director General Ronen Peretz in cooperation with Tourism, Transportation and Road Safety, Agriculture, Economy and Industry, Environmental Protection and Defense ministries.

The plan is to be implemented between 2020 and 2023.

Eilat development was put on a faster track after the decision last June to close down Sde Dov Airport in Tel Aviv, which served the southern city.

The loss of Sde Dov meant the loss of dozens of doctors who were flown to Eilat weekly for years, and the air link for Eilat residents seeking treatment unavilable locally, thus necessitating an upgraded health system, according to Globes. Meanwhile, the city suffers from an acute shortage of medical staff.

The plan includes incentive grants of up to NIS 1 million for five years for doctors moving to Eilat; 14 million for upgrading remote medical services (telemedicine), which can save on air travel costs to and from; 26 million by 2023 to build a helicopter pad for emergencies; and 1.6 million to be invested in promoting a home treatment system.

Democratic Camp MK Stav Shaffir sniped at the portable cabinet meeting, saying that Netanyahu is so removed from the public he’ll “get to Eilat using a helicopter.”

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