The Cabinet convened at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, marking 44 years since the reunification of the city.
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 29 May 2011:
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and ministers, we are meeting here today, at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem. Forty-four years ago the city was unified and we returned to the places of our forefathers. Since then, Jerusalem has flourished; both the city center and outlaying areas. Today we will strengthen it and we will assist its residents. Today, the Cabinet will pass decisions to invest approximately NIS 400 million in infrastructures, tourism and bio-technology. We want to turn Jerusalem into a global bio-technology center. We will provide study grants and scholarships for discharged soldiers in Jerusalem. We will rehabilitate heritage sites that are important to the State of Israel and our people. The Government and the people are bound as one to build up Jerusalem, the heart of the nation, and this commitment to Jerusalem ‘that is bound together’ [Psalm 122:3], is one of the foundations of the unity of the Jewish people.
I emphasized these foundations, these principles, in my recent remarks before the Knesset and in my speech to a special Joint Meeting of the US Congress. The broad support, both in Israel and the US, for the principles that I presented are the State of Israel’s ironclad assets. It is important the entire world knows, that the Jewish People and our friends around the world stand together, faithful to Jerusalem and our heritage, steadfast in their positions, insisting on our security and extending a hand in genuine peace to our neighbors. I think that today they know this very well."
Jerusalem Mayor Barkat briefed ministers on recent developments – in various fields, including tourism, education, transportation infrastructures, culture, employment and business – in Jerusalem.
School pupils from Jerusalem commended Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Cabinet for meeting at the Tower of David Museum in honor of Jerusalem Day and presented the Prime Minister with basket of fruit.
2. Prime Minister Netanyahu briefed ministers on his 19-25 May 2011 visit to the US and said as follows:
"First, I would like to thank ministers for their support, both in public and in private. We, as public figures, know that both are important. I would simply like to thank you all for this support. I know that sometimes it was done under not simple conditions; therefore, I appreciate it.
During this visit, I met with US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressional leaders. There was a special meeting at the request of Jewish members – there are several dozen – of the Senate and the House of Representatives. I meet with senior US commentators. I appeared in the important media there and – of course – I addressed two meetings that were very important for the State of Israel. The first was the annual AIPAC Policy Conference, attended by 11,000 people, and afterwards with 3,000 students. It was very interesting to see this younger generation, including both Jews and non-Jews, white, black and Hispanic. It was very interesting and very moving.
The second was a special joint meeting of Congress. I think that the most important thing was enunciating the fundamental principles that unite most of the Israeli public and which achieved sweeping support in the US. I think that this is very important."
Prime Minister Netanyahu also said: "They tell us all the time how we do not have any friends. We have friends. The American people is a great and strong friend of the State of Israel. There are some who do not understand the strength of this connection. I think that it finds expression. It does not stem – as more than a few people wrote during and after the visit – from this or that small segment. Neither does it stem solely from evangelist support. Jews and believing Christians do exist but the support, as very, very important commentators wrote, is much more sweeping, vis-à-vis the American people’s solidarity with the State of Israel. Somebody wrote that, ‘Israel is an American value,’ and I think that there is much truth in this. In any case, it is clear that the strength of this support is an important asset for Israel.
The American support is a very, very important asset for the State of Israel and I think that it is also important that the world sees this. It is very important that the world see this; governments see it and leaders as well.
I must point out that in recent days, there has been a joint effort by myself and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, and by the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, and important things have been done. We are in a process, a struggle, but there have been many important achievements because we have friends around the world, more than many think, and I am pleased to see that on various continents, in various meetings, they rebuffed matters that were not desirable to us.
The principles that are important to us – I will not repeat them all – include the demand to recognize the Jewish state, i.e. that the end of the conflict will lead to the recognition of the national rights of the Jewish people in its land, in a national state, with secure borders, no return to the 1967 lines, a united Jerusalem, a solution to the refugee problem outside the State of Israel, the non-acceptance of Hamas, achieving a solution through negotiations and only through negotiations, all of these received, I think, strong support. Some of them have not been enunciated this strongly and clearly in recent years. There were processes, which I claim were important, but the public backing in the US for these basic principles is essential, perhaps not sufficient, but essential.
I think that today it is known where we stand and that we are still in a struggle, but we also have supporters, and to the extent that we uphold our positions, others will come to our aid, and this is what has happened in recent days. This is what has happened and we must see to it that it continues to happen.
We are prepared to be very generous with our neighbors but we are not prepared to concede on the most basic issues that ensure our existence, including our security and our future as a Jewish state."
3. Jerusalem Mayor Barkat briefed ministers on the momentum for development in Jerusalem. He referred to: a) the number of cultural events being held in the city and the increase in the culture budget, and b) the increase in tourism, the number of business that have opened, the development of transportation infrastructure and positive developments in education. The Mayor thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu and the other ministers for the Government’s support in advancing developments in Jerusalem, in all fields.
Following a briefing by Jerusalem Development Authority Director Motti Hazan, the Cabinet approved the multi-year Merom Plan to strengthen Jerusalem.
4. The Cabinet instructed Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his capacity as Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Greater Jerusalem Affairs, in coordination with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, to submit within 60 days a draft amendment to the 1988 Jerusalem Development Authority Law, to the effect that Jerusalem will be an assistance area under the 1994 Discharged Soldiers Absorption Law, and that discharged soldiers and national civilian service graduates will be eligible for financing towards tuition at institutions of higher education in Jerusalem.
5. Pursuant to plans to increase higher education in Jerusalem in an effort to build up the city as a leading academic center, increase the number of institutions of higher education in the city, strengthen the city center and increase the number of students, the Cabinet decided to recommend that the Israel Land Administration act, within 60 days, to locate land in the Jerusalem city center and – in consultation with the minister responsible for Jerusalem affairs and the Jerusalem Municipality – allocate it to the municipality for the activities of an institution of higher education.
6. On the occasion of Jerusalem Day and in order to strengthen ties to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, the Cabinet decided to hold – and share in the costs of – a salute to the city by Israel’s regional councils, including school pupils.
7. The Cabinet approved the decision of the steering committee for the plan to strengthen national heritage infrastructure to add additional sites to the plan.
8. The Cabinet approved the following appointments:
- Moshe Dayan as Civil Service Commissioner;
- Rafael Barak as Foreign Ministry Director-General;
- Alexander Galili as Ambassador to Panama; and
- Tibor Shalev-Schlosser as Consul-General in Munich.
9. The Cabinet instructed the Health Minister to establish a unit to combat smoking.