Ahead of the 50th anniversary of reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli rule in 2017, the cabinet has allocated an extra NIS 850 million ($220 million) for a plan that encourages the city’s high-tech industry.
“This is almost NIS 1 billion that we are investing in the development of Jerusalem, in technology and in companies,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday about the Jubilee Plan, a five-year project initiated last year.
“The face of Jerusalem is changing. There is an interesting technological development here,” said Netanyahu, adding that the Israeli capital is now producing not only scripture but also software.
The announcement was made during a special cabinet meeting for Jerusalem Day, which takes place this year on Sunday. Jerusalem Day is a national holiday in Israel that marks the capture of East Jerusalem by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War. While Israel regards the parts of Jerusalem captured in that conflict as part of Israel proper, the land is widely seen internationally as occupied by Israel.
Approximately 40 percent of the program’s budget will go to “strengthening and establishing Jerusalem’s status in advanced industries,“ the plan’s outline states, including through grants to Jerusalem-based high-tech firms and cinema and animation enterprises, as well as startup incubation platforms.
Nearly 20% will go toward improving infrastructure with an emphasis on high-tech and industrial hubs, making them more accessible by public transportation and bicycle and beautifying them with parks. The remainder will become available for a second phase of the program once the initial goals have been reached, the outline says.
Another 10% will go to academia, enabling institutions of higher learning to upgrade their infrastructures and diversity their fields of research and instruction, the plan states. Fifteen percent of the budget will go to promoting Jerusalem internationally and attracting visitors, including participants of international conferences.
Jerusalem, whose population of 870,000 residents constitutes one-tenth of the national population, is one of Israel’s poorest cities, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics’ 2015 report on the city.
On average, Jerusalemite women have approximately four children compared to the national average of three.
Participation in the workforce stood at 51 percent in Jerusalem last year, compared to 64 percent nationally.
Jerusalem’s population grew by 20,000 people last year over 2014. Of the new Jerusalemites, 19 percent were Jewish immigrants from abroad.