PM Netanyahu: There are extremist elements around us that are trying to break through our borders and threaten our communities and our citizens. We will not allow them to do so.
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 5 June 5, 2011):
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"Today, we mark the 44th anniversary of the outbreak of the Six Day War. Egypt had previously closed the Straits of Tiran, directed approximately 100,000 soldiers into Sinai and made a military alliance against Israel with Syria and Iraq, which promised and dispatched soldiers for use against besieged Israel.
We asked Jordan not to join the war. To our regret, we were answered in the negative and Israel stood on three fronts against a great number of armies and in brilliant actions of a few days’ fighting, broke the strangling ring that threatened our existence. Of course, this ensured our future and also enabled us to the areas of our forefathers.
To my regret, today, there are extremist elements around us that are trying to break through our borders and threaten our communities and our citizens. We will not allow them to do so. I have instructed the security forces to act with determination, with maximum restraint, but with determination to maintain our sovereignty, our borders, our communities and our citizens.
Today, we will also approve additional measures to deal with the housing distress being faced by young couples in particular and all Israelis in general. We know that a comprehensive solution lies in the major reforms at the Israel Land Administration, which must be completed by legislation regarding workers’ pensions, and we will do so in the Knesset in the coming weeks. The second step is, of course, is to bypass the planning bureaucracy, which we will also try to complete before the summer recess.
But there are additional measures, two of which Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is bringing today, and I thank you, Yuval, for them. They will provide incentives to bring thousands of existing apartments into the residential housing market. The first apartments are those which serve as offices. The Government is saying that for 18 months, these apartments which are converted from offices to residences will be exempt from betterment tax. This is one encouragement.
The second encouragement is those apartments that have been built as investments; starting in 18 months, betterment tax will apply to them. This is a very large number, potentially tens of thousands of apartments. I cannot say how many will be realized; we hope thousands of apartments and perhaps more. All of this will ease the housing situation. When there are more apartments, we will cause the trend in prices to change direction and go down. In any case, these are important steps which the Cabinet will decide upon today."
Prime Minister Netanyahu also referred to the upcoming Shavuot holiday:
"’And you shall observe the feast of weeks [in Hebrew – shavuot], even of the first-fruits of the wheat harvest’ [Exodus 34:22]. We have here wheat and barley, fruit, vegetables and cheese, and especially children, wonderful children from the Lachish region, and I am very happy to welcome you here in Jerusalem, on one of our pilgrimage festivals. Lachish, which was under siege and fell, is being rebuilt, even ancient Lachish as well. We are planning to rehabilitate the archaeological site but the nicest thing is the revival of the Jewish People in the Lachish region, the best expression of which is right here, and I am very pleased to welcome you."
Following Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks, children from the Lachish Regional Council area, along with Council Chairman Danny Moravia and local officials, presented the Prime Minister and the Cabinet with holiday baskets [see above] and wished them a good holiday.
2. Prime Minister updated ministers on the French initiative for resuming Israel-Palestinian negotiations:
"I wanted to begin and say that I met with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe in Jerusalem last Thursday. We very much appreciate our French friends and I will respond to them after we have considered matters. We will study the proposal and discuss it with our American friends as well. The Americans also want to advance initiatives and we have our own thoughts as well. We will consider how the proposal fits in with other initiatives. Of course, they cannot all be implemented; we should concentrate on one and advance it.
We would also like to emphasize and reiterate: Negotiations will not be conducted with a Palestinian government, half of which is Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks to destroy Israel. I made it clear to Foreign Minister Juppe that Hamas must adopt the Quartet principles.
I think that our position is very clear. It is certainly acceptable to the US. I assume that it will not be difficult to explain this in other places as well. In any case, we told Foreign Minister Juppe that we will study the issue and respond after we have consulted among ourselves and with the US Government.
If the claim that there is a new spirit in Hamas is true, then it can find expression in the release of Gilad Shalit. If Abu Mazen has such good ties with Hamas, he can pressure it to release Gilad. While I cannot inform you about developments on this issue, in any case, Hamas is not exempt from meeting the Quartet’s conditions."
3. Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser informed the Cabinet that on 13.6.11, Israeli and Italian Government representatives will meet in Rome in the framework of the bilateral inter-governmental forum. Israel will be represented by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, Education Minister Gideon Saar, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Orit Noked, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.
4. The Cabinet approved two items of draft economic legislation and authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislative affairs to approve the final versions and submit them for Knesset approval.
5. The Cabinet today approved additional steps to slow real estate prices and increase the supply of residential apartments. Click here for details.