The Cabinet discussed the situation of Holocaust survivors in Israel and methods of providing aid to those in need, and the implementation of new social-economic objectives to promote economic growth.

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

1.      At the beginning of the meeting, Prime Minister Olmert discussed the issue of the Holocaust survivors, stating that it is a painful and delicate subject that has not been dealt with for many years , noting that   no previous government has dealt with the  issue  of special aid to the families of survivors.

The Prime Minister said:

"Prior to this  past Holocaust Remembrance Day, I raised the issue and said that we will hold special discussions to try and find a fair, balanced solution that takes into account the requirements of these populations as well as the social needs of hundreds of thousands of families in Israel living below the poverty line. 

I would like to point out that the government is investing in these populations. These populations must be defined, identifying those who were in concentration camps and suffered, those who were not in concentration camps and suffered and those who were only residents of occupied countries,  in order  to ensure that, at the end of the day, we are able to provide assistance to those who are really in need. We must also ask ourselves, should this aid be applied universally, independent of the individual’s economic situation, or should we concentrate on those who  answer the criteria of  Holocaust survivors,  and whose economic situation is such that it is essential that they receive assistance.

 The State of Israel already invests hundreds of millions of shekels per year in Holocaust survivors, and we will increase these sums.

I will meet, together with Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan and Minister of Social Affairs and Services Isaac Herzog, with the representative of the Holocaust survivor organizations this coming Wednesday. We will discuss with them the best methods of distributing the funds the government has allocated, in order to find the best, most correct solution that will provide maximum security for those in need."

2.      The Prime Minister commented on the passing of Amos  Manor, saying: "Tonight, Amos Manor,  who served as head of the Israel Security Services from 1953 to 1963, passed away. Amos Manor was a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel in 1949 and in 1953 was appointed by David Ben-Gurion and the government to the head of the security services.  He was a great Zionist before immigrating to Israel and a great contributor to the security of the State of Israel – most of his accomplishments are secret, and perhaps may remain so for eternity. He belonged to the generation who laid the foundation for Israel’s security and the building of its strength. The entire government bows its head in sorrow on the passing of Amos Manor. "

3.      The  heads of the  IDF  Operations Branch and of the Military Intelligence Research Division reviewed current security issues.

4.      The government discussed the issue of  defining objectives for Israel’s economic and social policy. In addition to previous decisions, the government decided:

       A.  To adopt the principles  recommended on 1 August 2007
            by  the inter-ministerial committee for the application of
            the social-economic agenda on the subject of economic
            objectives and indices.

       B.  In light of this, to define the following governmental
            social-economic objectives in the areas of employment
            and poverty:

                1.  Employment : to raise the level of employment in
                     the 25-64 age group to 71.7% by 2010. In
                     addition, with the  aim of concentrating the majority 
                     of the improvement  in the lower fifth percentile 
                     of household income, to determine as a
                     secondary objective a 10% increase in the 
                     average number of employed  wage earners at 
                     that income level by the year 2010.

                2.  Reducing poverty and improving the standard of 
                     living in weaker population segments – a
                     10% increase in income of the lower fifth percentile
                     of household income above the increase in 
                      the National Product (an increase by a factor of 1.1)
                     between 2008 – 2010.  As a means of implementing
                     this, to define as a secondary objective an increase    
                     from 43% to 45% in the portion of income from labor
                     of the total average income of the lower fifth percentile
                     of household income by the year 2010. The intention
                     is to achieve the objective by increasing income of 
                     the  population within the working age group.

The Prime Minister explained that the meaning of the decision was that an additional 90,000 previously unemployed people would join the work force, bringing Israel up to the employment level of leading international economies. The Minister of Finance and the Director-General of the Ministry of Finance both stressed that the definition of objectives was the first step, but the real test is in the implementation of the objectives and the actual achievement of results.

5.      The government decided to form a special committee of ministers to be responsible for  planning  the  celebrations of  60th anniversary  of Israel’s independence.

The committee members are as follows:

–  Minister Ruhama Avraham Balila – Chairwoman

– The Minister of Housing and Construction

– The Minister of Education

– The Minister of Tourism

–  Minister Isaac Cohen

6.      In addition, the government decided that the central  theme  of the 60th anniversary celebrations would be "Children of Israel".  Although children and youths  represent  Israel’s future, problems regarding  the  safety and security of children have arisen of late. This issue must be treated as a central theme within the framework of the 60th anniversary celebrations to cause parents as well as national authorities to make an effort to increase the security and safety of these children.

7.      The government decided on continued subsidization of the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria evacuees for  maintaining children at day care centers until they are able to move to a permanent residence.