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
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.