Ministers on Sunday approved an over NIS 500 million ($160 million) development plan for the city of Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem.
The plan includes NIS 300 million for public transportation; NIS 82 million for “building public institutions” and infrastructure expansion; some NIS 50 million to help the municipality provide services to residents; and NIS 34 million for vocational training.
It also earmarks NIS 31 million to improve welfare services in Beit Shemesh; NIS 10 million “to increase personal security” and promote healthy living; and another NIS 10 million for culture and leisure.
A government statement announcing the multi-year plan’s approval noted Beit Shemesh’s population has grown 63 percent over the past decade, the highest rate among the 15 most populated Israeli cities.
“The city hasn’t hit its maximal growth potential and the trend of [population] expansion that has characterized it over the past decade is expected to continue,” the statement said, adding that the growth rate produced “gaps” in housing, transportation and welfare services, among other fields.
According to the statement, the plan was presented by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, and was formulated with the help of numerous ministers.
“The city of Beit Shemesh is a wonderful place with excellent people dealing with many challenges,” Bennett was quoted as saying. “We are advancing a plan of unprecedented scope that will improve the quality of life in the city.”
Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch also lauded the plan as “unprecedented.”
“I am happy that the Israeli government has a desire to promote the development of the city as a joint goal together with the city leadership and residents,” Bloch said.