(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today (Wednesday, June 1, 2005) directed that a comprehensive plan for the development and advancement of Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, be submitted to the cabinet for approval.  The plan will be presented to ministers at a special Jerusalem Day cabinet meeting at Ammunition Hill.

The plan focuses on three main areas: employment, housing, and the revival of the city center. The plan’s approximately NIS 280 million cost will be spread over a number of years.

Prime Minister Sharon also instructed Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to prepare an alternative plan for encouraging young couples to live in Jerusalem (either similar in format to the arrangement that was recently achieved regarding the Galilee and the Negev or in some other format) by the aforementioned cabinet meeting.

In order to convert Jerusalem into a center of employment, the government will work to encourage new factories and entrepreneurs to come to Jerusalem, while encouraging the absorption of new workers.  To this end, the government will provide incentives for new entrepreneurs in industry and to workers in the hi-tech and communications fields.  The government will also provide scholarships to students who continue to live and work in Jerusalem after they finish their studies.  Assistance will also be given to technology start-ups and there will be expanded tourism marketing activities.

In order to expand the housing supply in Jerusalem, the government will advance planning and marketing for residential plots.  Public areas will be developed in order to improve quality of life, culture, and recreation in the city.

The plan also determines that government institutions will be moved to the city center in order to attract further activity.  Similarly, a plan will be determined for encouraging the construction of commercial structures and offices and for improving the appearance of the city center.

Prime Minister Sharon said that the plan assists in strengthening our presence in Jerusalem and converts it into a city that attracts investors, students, tourists, and new residents and puts Jerusalem in its proper place – first among Israeli cities, a leading world city, and a source of pride for all Jews in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora.  “The plan we will be submitting to the cabinet contains a clear message about the Government of Israel’s commitment to Jerusalem,” said Sharon.