Transportation minister: ‘I intend to Judaize the Galilee’

The newly appointed transportation minister has long-term plans for increasing the Jewish population in regions with the greatest number of Arab residents.

By World Israel News Staff 

Israel’s newly appointed transportation minister Bezalel Smotrich says that one of his objectives is to “Judaize the Galilee” by building up the mass transit infrastructure between that region in northern Israel and other parts of the country.

Smotrich, of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, was given the cabinet position by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an interim post, as Israel continues to be ruled by a transition government due to Netanyahu’s inability to form a new governing coalition after the April 9 election. As a result, the Knesset called a new election, and Israelis are now scheduled to go back to the polls on September 17.

However, Smotrich is setting goals for after the September ballot.

“If I will be transportation minister in the coming years, I will lay down a network of roads, to complete a revolution, so that hundreds of thousands of Jews will come to live in the Galilee,” he said in an interview with Israel Hayom. “I intend to Judaize the Galilee.”

The majority of Israel’s Arab population lives in the north, with 57% residing in the Haifa, Galilee, and overall northern area, as compared to 19% in Jerusalem and 13% in the southern Negev region, according to the Interagency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues. Israel’s largest Arab town, it says, is Nazareth in the lower Galilee, with a population of about 74,000.

Smotrich’s vision also includes bringing “another half million people” to Judea and Samaria through the development of rail transportation, roads, and interchanges.

“Anyone who thinks that settlement [in Judea and Samaria] is an obstacle to peace should certainly be worried,” he told the newspaper.

Smotrich has repeatedly stated his desire to become justice minister. However, his statements about ruling Israel by Torah law are said to have decreased his chances of getting the post from the prime minister.