The Cabinet will announce today that the reconstruction and strengthening of Haifa and the Galilee will be a national priority. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will announce the appointment of Maj. General (Ret) Amos Yaron to be the special coordinator who will oversee all government reconstruction and infrastructure activities in Haifa and the north. Yaron will work to expedite the reconstruction process and will report directly to PM Olmert. Yaron will be employed for a period of one year with a salary equivalent to a Director General of a government office.
The government will also create a special Cabinet for the strengthening and reconstruction of Haifa and the north headed by PM Olmert, and the participation of Deputy PM Shimon Peres, and the Ministers of Defense, Treasury, Industry-Trade and Labor, Education, Interior, Health, Tourism, Housing, Justice, and Agriculture. The special Cabinet will outline policy, approve plans for reconstruction, and will oversee their implementation.
The government will also establish a public committee headed by Deputy PM Peres which will include business leaders and economists. The purpose is to advance the cooperation between the government and the private sector in the area of initiating business projects and investments in Haifa and the north. Peres will also coordinate the fundraising activities from the Jewish communities abroad and the allocation of those resources between the donors and local municipalities and the government.
In addition, a general steering committee will be established headed by Director General of the PM’s office, Raanan Dinur, and with Directors General of all government ministries that will submit detailed and coordinated plans for the reconstruction of the north. The plans will detail the actions of all government ministries taking part, including which municipalities will be included, detailed budgetary plans which include new and existing plans for 2006 and 2007. The plan will address the needs of all northern communities: Jewish, Arab, Bedouin, Circassian, Druze, and mixed.
In addition PM Ehud Olmert said that the proposed convergence plan for settlements in Judea and Samaria has ceased to be a national priority and is no longer on the government’s agenda. Olmert clarified that all government efforts will be directed towards the reconstruction of the north, which will not leave any resources for the convergence plan.
Olmert’s words are surprising and go against what he had said at the beginning of the war in Lebanon saying that the war would be a catalyst for the proposed convergence plan.