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   Prime Minister Levi Eshkol visits the renewed Kfar Etzion for the first time. At the center of the picture appears Yehuda Dekel, who would later become Director-General of the Settlement Department
the previous decades. He took care to import new strains of grapevine, and despite the opposition of both the vine-growers and the Ministry of Agriculture, large areas of in Israel – particularly in the Galilee and the Golan Heights – were planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and other strains of grapevine, which greatly improved the quality of Israeli wine within a few years. Dekel also pushed to raise the standards in the wineries of "Carmel Mizrahi," and they underwent a series of renovations and improvements. The Settlement Department under his leadership even entered into a partnership with "Carmel Mizrahi." In addition, he established the first winery in the Golan Heights.
The second example relates to dates. In his memoir "A Drop of My Own" (2008) he wrote: "Expanding the dates sector was one of the objectives in the field of agricultural development that I fulfilled in my capacity as Director-General, an issue I started way back when I was the Jerusalem Regional Director. Until the Eighties, the dates sector was small and limited to a handful of settlements in the Arava, the Jordan Rift Valley, the Beit She'an Valley and the Jordan Valley."
Only then did Yehuda discover that the United States Government added the dates sector to the list of sectors that American Government was willing to assist in other countries as part of its foreign aid. This was mostly for two strains, which originated in Morocco: Medjool and Deglet Nour. The Settlement Department contacted the Americans and every year, thousands of shoots of these strains arrived in Israel, mostly Medjool. In retrospect, this was a winning move and it is doubtful that many know that the Israeli date trees currently supply three-quarters of the global consumption of the Medjool strain, whose fruits are large, sweet and juicy.

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