Goldstone himself said that all of the things that we have been saying all along are correct – that Israel never intentionally fired at civilians and that our inquiries operated according to the highest international standards.

 Cabinet communique

 

PM Netanyahu attends Cabinet meeting (Photo: Reuters)

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 3 April 2011:

1.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"There are very few instances in which those who disseminate libels retract their libel. This happened in the case of the Goldstone Report. Goldstone himself said that all of the things that we have been saying all along are correct – that Israel never intentionally fired at civilians and that our inquiries operated according to the highest international standards. Of course, this is in complete contrast to Hamas, which intentionally attacked and murdered civilians and, naturally, never carried out any sort of inquiry. This leads us to call for the immediate cancellation of the Goldstone Report.

I have asked National Security Council Chairman Yaakov Amidror to convene a special staff meeting of people from the Foreign, Justice and Defense ministries to formulate practical and public diplomacy measures, in order to reverse and minimize the great damage that has been done by this campaign of denigration against the State of Israel. I expect their recommendations in the coming days. We will act on the public diplomacy front, and on other fronts, with the international community and the UN in order to demand the justice that is due to Israel.

The end of last month marked two years since this Government took office. This is the first Cabinet meeting to mark this date.In the last two years, the Government has carried out significant actions in all areas of life.

We have been accepted into the OECD; we lead this organization in the rate of growth.Last year alone, we created 110,000 jobs, i.e.unemployment has gone down.We are paving highways and laying railroads in a multi-year plan with a budget of close to NIS 30 billion. We are investing billions in education, including higher, primary and secondary education. The Communications Ministry has lowered cellular transfer fees and is fighting monopolies in the communications field.We are building a fence along the southern border against infiltrators. We have enacted free dental care for children up to age eight. For the first time, we are adding hundreds of hospital beds, which the health system and Israeli citizens badly need.We are investing in innovative environmental protection projects, including national parks near Be’er Sheva, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

The foregoing is only a little of what all of the ministries have done. There have been impressive achievements in tourism, an all-time record of 3.5 million tourists. There has been progress in Science and Technology Ministry, in the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, and in many other ministries. We are establishing an urban policing system within the Public Security Ministry. There is a major national heritage plan.We will issue an exhaustive review of all these items.

We know that this activity encompasses all Government ministries and it is proper that there be a preliminary, albeit partial, publication in order to list the facts and enable the truth to be known.I would like to thank all those ministers who dealt, and are dealing, with the matter. This is important work for the State of Israel."
 
2. Pursuant to Article 7b of the 1965 Israel Broadcasting Authority Law, the Cabinet appointed Amir Gilat as Chairman of the IBA Board.

3. Pursuant to Article 23 of the 1959 State Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet appointed Shahar Ayalon to succeed Shimon Romach as Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner, effective 1 May 2011, for a five-year term.

4. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch informed the Cabinet that following an inquiry that was carried out and after consulting with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, he had decided to withdraw Eli Gavison’s nomination as Prison Service Commissioner and nominate [Jerusalem Police Commander] Aharon Franco instead. The Minister noted that the commission on senior appointments chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel had evaluated Commander Franco’s candidacy and had decided to endorse the appointment.

5. Pursuant to Article 38 of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet decided to recommend to the Knesset that a state of emergency be declared for a period of one year, in continuation of the Knesset’s previous 14 June 2010 declaration. A series of vital laws, which provide the necessary authority to deal with the prevailing security situation, depend on the continuation of the state of emergency. Security officials reported that in recent years, wide use has been made of these laws and added that they constitute vital legal tools in the war on terrorism.
 
6. The Cabinet today approved the establishment of a network of parks, on land and at sea, to stop the erosion of the Mediterranean Sea coastal escarpment at a cost of approximately NIS 500,000,000. The decision was formulated by an inter-ministerial team chaired by the Prime Minister’s Office, in continuation of the Cabinet’s 25 April 2010 decision.
 
Protecting the coastal escarpment will reduce the risk of harm to human life and to property, increase the number of bathing beaches that are accessible to the public, protect national antiquities sites along the coast (Apollonia and Tel Ashkelon), and aid in preventing the loss of state lands.

7. Prime Minister Netanyahu made the following statement on fiscal policy regarding natural resources and natural gas: "In the past year, the Government considered fiscal policy regarding Israel’s oil and gas resources, in the framework of the Sheshinski Committee, which was established by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. According to the Committee’s recommendations, which the Cabinet adopted on 23 January 2011, the state’s share of revenues from oil and gas production will be between 52-62%. Similarly, the proposed system will have relatively less of an influence on investment decisions by entrepreneurs, and exploration and production license holders, since the levy will come into force only after the cost of the investment has been returned along with an appropriate yield.

The Cabinet, as expressed in its aforesaid 23 January 2011 decision, believes that the new taxation system creates the necessary balance between ensuring the continued development of the oil and gas economy, the public’s receiving an appropriate share for the exploitation of the state’s natural resources and providing appropriate incentives for those engaged in natural gas exploration. Therefore, upon the completion of the legislation in the Cabinet decision, the Government sees no need to implement further changes in its fiscal policy on the issue of natural resources and gas. There is nothing in the foregoing to prevent additional consideration in the future, as per need."
 
8. GOC Intelligence Maj.-Gen.Aviv Kochavi briefed ministers on recent events in the Middle East, including their background and consequences for Israel. He made it clear that the changes in the region are historic in nature and will continue to affect it for years to come. Following are the main points as presented to the Cabinet.
 
General
 
The events stem from a confluence of several trends: An increase in the number of young people with exposure to the West and to human rights, major socio-economic gaps and an eroding middle class, the appearance of satellite networks and social media which constitute an unprecedented mechanism for mass mobilization, and cracks in the masses’ fear of the regimes and their means of repression. The success of the masses in one country is a cause of inspiration and "contagion" that motivates process in additional countries. These trends exist to varying degrees and operate with variable strengths in all countries in the region.
 
The most prominent phenomenon that has come to light in the recent events is the influence of "the street" and public opinion on decision-making processes. The leaders’ awareness of the issue has increased significantly. That the public has become an interlocutor in the political process obligates the regimes to take this into account to a degree that they did not need to previously.
 
Egypt
 
The current leadership in Egypt and the most serious contenders for the future leadership of the country ascribe strategic importance to the peace agreement with Israel. Since the events, there has been a weakening of the level of security in, and control over, the Sinai peninsula.Smuggling has increased as has the probability of attempted terrorist actions.
 
Iran and the radical camp

The radical camp, which had accumulated strength at the onset of the events, has become aware of dangers at home and is disturbed that the events in Syria have weakened a crucial link in the radical axis.
 
Iran presents a contrasting approach to the West that stems from a deeply-held religious and political ideology that challenges the existing global order. The military nuclear project that Iran is continuing to advance with determination is merely one tool in taunting the West and in accumulating political strength as part of its ambition to become a regional power. Despite the international pressure, centering on sanctions, which is impeding the Iranian economy, the regime is continuing to act systematically and broadly to spread its malignant influence and even exploit the various upheavals in order to broaden them.The regime channels funds, weaponry, know-how, experts and ideology to its partners in the radical axis, on an ongoing basis.
 
Hamas is the main power that controls the Gaza Strip even though Islamic Jihad’s military power has strengthened of late. Hamas prefers to enforce its will on the [other] organizations through dialogue and not by the exercise of power.