Master plan for Western Galilee aims to double population and develop coastal areas
A new master plan comprising around 60 projects aimed at further developing the Western Galilee is currently being considered by decision makers at the Ministry of Construction and Housing.
The plan aims to strengthen existing communities and the local economy, increasing the population from around 300,000 to over 600,000 over the next 20 years. He envisions the Western Galilee becoming a leader in blue technology – technology that uses water resources – and in food technology, an area of growing global interest in which Israel plays a leading role.
The Western Galilee region includes the area north of Haifa, through the cities of Acre, Nahariya, Ma’alot-Tarshiha and Rosh Hanikra, as well as a large number of smaller towns in more rural areas. The region has a mixed Arab and Jewish population and maintaining this demographic composition is stated as an important goal of the development plan.
Among the proposals are commitments to urban renewal, affordable housing, improvements to the education system, construction of industrial parks, better public transport and support for agriculture.
The growth of tourism in the region is also seen as an important goal that can help advance the regional economy. Planners will seek to develop coastal areas, as well as historic sites, and allow wider access to natural areas in the region by expanding footpaths and cycle paths along waterways.
The plan also recognizes the distinctive characteristics of the Western Galilee, described as “a sense of community”. Although the plan aims to encourage migration to the region, particularly by entrepreneurs and other people who can create jobs, it emphasizes the importance of maintaining this sense of community and a way of life different from the other regions of the country.
The plans took around two years to develop, with joint work by the Department of Building and Housing, the Northern Planning Office, local government, businesses and other stakeholders in the region.
Its implementation will depend on the support of the competent ministries for the key elements of regional development.
Aviad Friedman, director general of the Ministry of Construction and Housing, said that “the master plan will benefit the whole region and therefore… the whole country. The program will significantly improve the quality of life for northern residents and open up various opportunities for employment, research, development and recreation.
Late last year, the cabinet unanimously approved a NIS 1 billion ($317 million) development plan to encourage population and economic growth in the Golan Heights. The stated goal was to reach 100,000 inhabitants in the Golan Regional Council and Katzrin Local Council in the coming years.
Currently, some 53,000 people live in the Golan Heights: 27,000 Jews, 24,000 Druze and some 2,000 Alawites (an ethno-religious group descended from Shia Islam and a minority sect to which the Syrian ruling family, the Assads, belongs). .
Besides the United States, the international community considers the Golan to be part of Syria, which lost the territory in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel annexed the Golan in 1981.