Development towns

Development town

Development town (עיירת פיתוח, Ayarat Pitu'ah) is a term used to refer to the new settlements that were built in Israel during the 1950s in order to expand the population of the country's peripheral areas and to ease development pressure on the country's crowded centre. The majority of such towns were built in the Galilee in the north of Israel, and in the northern Negev desert in the south. In addition to the new towns, Jerusalem was also given development town status in the 1960s.


The first development town was Beit Shemesh, founded in 1950 around 20km from Jerusalem. They were mostly populated by new immigrants from Arab countries such as Morocco and Tunisia, and many gained a new influx of residents during the mass immigration from former Soviet states in the early 1990s. A high proportion of the population is religious or traditional, with a 2003 survey showing that 39% of residents would rather Israel be run more by halakhic law.

Despite businesses and industries being eligible for favorable tax treatment and other subsidies, with the exception of Arad, most of the towns (particularly those in the south) have fared poorly in the economic sense, and often feature amongst the poorest Jewish Areas in Israel.

List of development towns




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