Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said new initiatives will greatly boost Israeli cyber capabilities. (Prime Minister's Office)
TEL AVIV — Israel is promising tax breaks and access to cooperative cyber programs to lure leading domestic and multinational firms to a new national cyber park in the Negev desert.
Approved by the Israeli Cabinet Sunday, the incentives aim to advance Israel’s drive toward global cyber power status through strategic partnerships, investment and employment expected from the high-tech hub being built in Beersheba.
Israel aims to create 3,000 cyber-related jobs over the next 10 years through tax breaks for existing Israeli-based businesses willing to relocate down south or for new firms seeking to share in a steadily growing market.
The government’s National Cyber Bureau (NCB) estimated that Israel-based firms generated some $3 billion in cyber-related sales in 2013, second only to annual turnover by US firms.
“The State of Israel is at an excellent jumping off point vis a vis the rest of the world, which allows us to compete for a significant share of global growth,” NCB Director Eviatar Matanya said in a Sunday statement.
The government’s latest incentives aim to augment Israel’s share of an annual market estimated to exceed $120 billion in coming years.
“This is a step that will strengthen our national security and benefit Israeli industry. Our goal is to have thousands of jobs at the cyber park in less than a decade,” he added.
In a statement following his government’s approved cyber incentives, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged “determined action” to satisfy strategic needs while exploiting global economic opportunity.
“We’re now on a super highway of competition for the heart of the market,” Netanyahu said.
Air Force Gen. Jonathan Harel Locker, director of the Prime Minister’s Office, said the incentives will advance plans to create “a unique global cluster” at the park.
Tax breaks will allow employers to reduce taxes deducted from employee income, similar to a formula designed for the government’s Free Trade Zone agreement in the Red Sea port city of Eilat, Locker said.
The cyber research park is the centerpiece of a multibillion dollar, 10-year plan to grow exports and fortify strategic and economic strength through innovation that cuts across military, civilian and academic sectors.
It calls for the relocation of key military intelligence units and technology development labs and a new cyber Command to be co-located with industry at a new campus for innovation at Beersheba’s Ben Gurion University.
Longer-term plans prescribe a high-speed railway connecting the new cyber hub to points stretching from the Mediterranean coast to the Red Sea. ■