Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) toured the Jordan Valley and Ma'ale Ephraim Tuesday, in a business meeting with mayors and regional council chiefs from Judea and Samaria.
Attendees included Science Ministry representatives; David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council; Shay Alon, mayor of Beit El; Yigal Dilmoni, vice president of the Yesha Council; Aryeh Cohen, head of the Dead Sea-Megilot Regional Council; and Assaf Mintzar, head of the Elkana Local Council.
Akunis promised to double the budget for Research and Development (R&D) in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights, as well as boost funding for scientific projects already underway in the region.
He visited the Agricultural R&D center in the Jordan Valley, which focuses on technological advancements for Israel's farming community and resources for local farmers. Then, he paid a visit to the Student Village of the Kedma Association in Ma'ale Ephraim, meeting there Kedma head Tiral Cohen and 20 students.
"We are here in the Jordan Valley and we are staying here," Akunis stated. "We stayed in Judea, Samaria, and the Golan and we will remain in all of these places," he said.
"There are people in Israel or in the international community who can claim that one region or another is not a part of Israel," he added. "But it's all the land of Israel and it will always remain so."
"We are here for historical reasons and we are here for security reasons, because of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley are the defensive shield of the State and people of Israel," he continued. "We will continue to build and settle the Jordan Valley."