Going south

Be'er Sheva City Hall - Source: Wikimedia

Be’er Sheva City Hall – Source: Wikimedia

From Arutz Sheva:

Be’er Sheva to Jump from 7th to 3rd-Largest Israeli City

20,000 new housing units – the most ever – will be built in capital of the Negev.

On Tuesday, in Be’er Sheva, the Government signed the largest ever “roof agreement” in Israel with a local authority. This is a deal whereby the local authority gets the money to build infrastructure that is essential for developing sustainable population growth. For example, schools, schools, clinics, day care centers, and so on. This aids the marketing and sale of residential properties. This particular agreement, as well as the infrastructure,  is aimed at building, developing, marketing, and selling 20,000 housing units by 2019.

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Be’er Sheva, which was one Israel’s fourth-largest city, has dropped to 7th place, with some 200,000 residents. Ahead of it are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, as well as Rishon LeTzion (236,000), Ashdod (215,000), and Petach Tikvah (214,000 residents). The addition of 20,000 new homes is expected to increase Be’er Sheva’s population by 50% in just four years, jacking it up to 3rd place, ahead of Haifa’s slightly-declining population of 275,000.

Haifa’s decline matches the perceived decline in its hi-tech presence. It would be reasonable to assume at some point there will be a fresh initiative there. Just as the south needs help, so does the north.

Netanyahu also noted that Be’er Sheva is “becoming a global cyber capital. The biggest companies in the world in this field are coming to Be’er Sheva from overseas. I have seen something else: companies in Tel Aviv and Herzliya are opening offices in Be’er Sheva. This should tell you something… The IDF is moving south, the State of Israel is moving south, to Be’er Sheva and the Negev.”

There has already been a substantial investment in the road and rail infrastructure between the central belt and the south. The railway line has been extended, as has the toll road, and other roads have been widened or added to. It brings the south that much closer to the central belt, with benefits for both areas. For example, if you are prepared to do a London length commute (say an hour and a quarter) you can live in Be’er Sheva and work in Tel Aviv, or the other way around.

[For more details on the agreement, and one or two loose ends, see Globes.]