The Israeli Government has approved a plan to move key Israel Defence Forces (IDF) military installations to the Negev desert, in a bid to boost development.

The $5.5bn relocation of an intelligence base and various communications units is expected to be completed by 2018.

The communications base will be moved to Be’er Sheba and the intelligence base to the Lakiah-Omer area, Israel.

The relocation would also help decentralise the security structure and strengthen Israel’s periphery.

About seven IDF military bases are expected to be taken out of use by 2014, with an additional six by the end of 2019.

The relocation plan for IDF units was first approved in 2005, but was stalled due to disputes over financing.