(Communicated by Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 16.06.96:
1. At the start of the Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister made parting remarks, reviewing the government’s activities over its four-year term, in the socio-economic, political and security spheres.
The Prime Minister thanked the ministers and expressed his appreciation to the security branches.
The full text of the Prime Minister’s remarks is attached below.
2. The Cabinet, sitting as the Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs, was briefed on security matters by the Chief-of-Staff, OC Northern Command and the Police Inspector-General.
3. Pursuant to the 23.01.94 Cabinet decision on the recovery plan for Israel Aircraft Industries, the Cabinet approved the agreement between the IAI management and the State, regarding pension and funding arrangements for 500 IAI employees.
Following are the Prime Minister’s parting remarks to the Cabinet:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the final session of the current Cabinet, and I think it appropriate to say a few words.
The election results are unimportant; they are certainly not the result of failure, corruption or abuses of public confidence. To the contrary, there has been no government such as this one, which has served the nation in every sphere, with so much seriousness, devotion and responsibility.
This government was formed following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, who paid with his life and fell victim only because he took a new course, and not because of any other reason.
In every sphere, we have registered revolutionary achievements. Firstly, on the issue of peace. With thanks to God, we no longer rule most of another people. This is a tremendous revolution. Had we continued to force our rule on the Palestinian people, on approximately two million more people, we would have risked two things the genuine character of the State of Israel, and the moral values of the Jewish people. I view the Oslo Accords as a response to a moral charge that one people should not rule another.
As a result of the Oslo Accords, we also achieved an excellent peace agreement with Jordan. This peace has only just started, and it will yet bear fruit.
Israel’s international situation has changed beyond recognition. Wherever we turn, we have become one of the most respected and accepted nations of the world. We have reached a situation where Israel is one of the most admired states in the entire world.
As a consequence of the political process, there has also been a tremendous economic revolution. I know that there is 15% inflation but as one who received a government which knew inflation rates of 500%, I cannot be impressed with inflation of 15%. I think this is a slight economic "chill."
In all other areas, the economic progress has been monumental. GNP has almost doubled, national income is most impressive, unemployment has dropped. We received a situation with a 11.5% unemployment rate, and it now stands at 5.8%. We are a country with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.
The immigration has been absorbed, despite all the problems. Most of the immigrants have homes and jobs perhaps not the jobs they might want, but it takes time, because of the large scope of the excellent waves of immigration from Russia and Ethiopia. A great measure of equality between us and the Arabs has been practically implemented. Economic growth during these four years has approached 30%; this is also a tremendous achievement, unprecedented in the Western world.
As a result of the shift in priorities this was Yitzhak Rabin’s primary objective we have invested less in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and invested much more in education the education budget has doubled, the science budget has doubled.
In education, the computer revolution impacted on the entire education establishment. The national infrastructure received appropriate attention: about 1,800 kms. of new roads were paved, traffic jams were relieved, intersections were built. Massive railway planning was also begun. The ports were upgraded. A new airport is planned. Tourism reached new and previously unknown heights. The health establishment was nationalized and, as a result, almost everyone in the State of Israel, children and adults, now benefits from national health care. There was an upswing in construction. The rules of democracy were upheld to the letter; as I said, this was a government that knew not a single incidence of corruption.
I want to make particular mention of the new and so difficult role of the Israel Defense Forces. This time, the IDF was forced to confront a number of completely new issues. The IDF was the body responsible for implementing the peace process, under highly conflicting conditions, with nobody from whom to learn, without precedents or combat doctrines and I think we can all say that the change in Gaza, and the changes in Judea and Samaria, were carried out with a significant measure of success.
The army also had to, and must still, deal with the very great danger of non-conventional weapons, chemical and biological, in the knowledge that they exist in the region.
The army, together with the police and the GSS, had to face the very serious phenomenon of terrorism, mainly the terrorism of suicide attackers.
All told, the army has served the country with very great loyalty and while demonstrating good judgment.
I want to mention that during this election campaign, we had to deal with Hizbullah and Hamas, which both tried to interfere in the election campaign and influence its results and possibly did have an influence, I do not know.
Accordingly, I want to thank the Chief-of-Staff, the General Staff, and those working in the field. It must not be forgotten that the military is not a vague concept, it is an organization which, every night, sends our best sons out on paths that are not paths, endangering their lives and forcing them to deal with very difficult things at sea, in the air and on land. This cannot be forgotten for even one moment.
I also want to thank the police. The police have had to deal with a national storm of passions such as we have never known before. It was involved with safeguarding democracy and did indeed defend it with courage, and without prejudice. It had to protect very sensitive places, where there were clashes of a religious orientation, as in Jerusalem. The police also had to participate, most actively, together with the army and the GSS, in the war on terrorism. As such, the size of the police force was increased. The police and the GSS both forged rules of cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian police.
I want to thank the Public Security Minister, the Police Inspector-General, and the staff at Police headquarters. It is my wish that they continue serving the country and the people, without bias. Democracy cannot remain a mere abstract concept; it requires serious effort from time to time.
I want to thank the headquarters responsible for the territories, which also had a very difficult task of revolutionary change from one pole to the other.
I want to thank the GSS which, without a doubt, did good work after experiencing complicated shocks in order to take up their position on the main front in the war on terrorism.
Four years is not much time, but four years can be four revolutionary years. I would analyze these four years not by the calendar, but by the measure of history. From this standpoint, the accomplishments were tremendous, in all spheres, to the fullest extent of the word.
I want to thank the Cabinet Secretary, who objectively fulfilled his duties in the best way possible.
Last but not least, I want to thank the Cabinet ministers. In essence, the Cabinet functioned as a team and a collective. While each minister was responsible for his sphere, and the ministers can certainly point to great accomplishments such as the Finance Minister, the Industry and Trade Minister, the Agriculture Minister, the Tourism Minister, and other ministers. I can offer justified praises about every minister, and I take leave of my fellow Cabinet ministers with a sense of deep admiration. I have a sense that we tried to do our best, and according to our best conscience. We did not deal in deception. We served the people loyally, and we will now hand over affairs in a most orderly and responsible fashion.
In democracy, there are changes of power. It does not contravene the law, but is in keeping with the law and one must know to accept power and to lose power in a respectable manner, without trying to steal credit or make accusations.
In any event, I think that if Yitzhak were sitting in the chair in which I now sit, he would have said the same thing. My thanks go to Cabinet members for their dedicated work and their collective spirit, with all the weaknesses and problems that are human nature. This was a superb, just, and responsible government, which wrote a page in the history of the Jewish people, and certainly a decisive chapter in the history of the State of Israel."