PM Netanyahu: Today, we mark exactly one decade since that monumental terrorist attack in which almost 3,000 innocent civilians of various nationalities were murdered in New York and Washington.

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 11 September 2011:

"Today, we mark exactly one decade since that monumental terrorist attack in which almost 3,000 innocent civilians of various nationalities were murdered in New York and Washington. That Al-Qaeda attack on the US marked the peak of a wave of terrorist attacks, which nevertheless continued in Madrid, London, Bali and Mumbai.

We are in this struggle, the struggle against terrorism, and while there is no doubt that this is terrorism, it is a tool of war. This is not a conventional war. This is a war of terrorism – by the forces and regimes of radical Islam. Radical Islam threatens moderate Islamic and Arab regimes. It threatens the very existence of the State of Israel and in its linking up with radical regimes, it brings the tools of terrorism – rockets and missiles – to Israeli civilians.

This network, which has several heads composed of two basic movements, denies the principles of progress and peace, and the principles of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. They seek to make a historic change, an historic regression, through the use of violence that knows no borders. Terrorism is their tool and therefore, we must know that we are in a decade of terrorism, of that same radical Islam that is implanted deep in the expanse between east and west, and – most of all – runs amok in the heart of our region.

But today it hangs over all of us, over the regimes and the stability of the Middle East, over the security of Israel, over the security of Europe and the US and, in my opinion, over the security and stability of Russia and many other countries.

This struggle is not over. We are still in the thick of it. It is clear that it will be indescribably huge if the radical Islamic forces or regimes acquire the ultimate weapon – weapons of mass-destruction, and the terrorists will stand together and will be able to operate under the nuclear umbrella of a radical regime, or even with tools for mass-destruction that they will acquire.

Therefore, the struggle against radical Islamic terrorism, which is, in effect, a description of the past decade, is at its peak; it is not yet over. We must all unite, countries that aspire to life, certainly the democracies that cherish life, and act in concert against this blight.

I would also like to say several words about Egypt. We had a difficult, very challenging weekend. I would like to thank my colleagues, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as well as the heads of the ISA and the Mossad, the IDF Chief-of-Staff and their people. I think that with very accelerated work we succeeded in preventing a very near disaster. The rioters broke into the embassy building, entered the embassy area itself, and were only one door away from our people, who were besieged in there.

Our people acted exceptionally. I commend Yonatan and his friends. They acted with equanimity and, at a certain stage, in very close coordination with the command center, the Foreign Ministry security personnel and with the commander on the ground in Egypt, after we established this connection. I must also note the actions of US President Barack Obama, who became involved at a critical time in order to use America’s influence on the issue.

I think that it was clear that this was the realization of the basic norm of every government to protect foreign embassies, and especially the special implication of protecting the Israeli Embassy that symbolizes the peace between us and Egypt. This peace is being challenged and those who challenge it are challenging not only the policy but also the state known as Israel.

Those who tore up the flags apparently shrink at nothing and they are not so much interested in the fine details, they deny the peace. They deny the state. I am pleased that there are other forces in Egypt, beginning with the Egyptian government. There are also other voices, that want to continue advancing the peace. We are in contact with the Egyptian government regarding the necessary procedures for returning our ambassador so that he and his staff will be properly secured, so that they might continue to maintain Israel’s representation in Cairo.

We recently received good news about the raising of the State of Israel’s credit rating by Standard and Poor’s from A to A+. First of all, I would like to explain what this means. This means that we will, apparently, need to pay less, a little less, on interest, on the country’s overdraft, on debts. This will save money for Israeli citizens.

But more importantly, this is the international economic community’s certificate of honor and of responsibility regarding investments in Israel. This is a message to investors. This is a good country. This is a country that, in complete contrast to the global trend, is improving and maintaining a correct and responsible economy, and therefore, it is worthwhile to invest in it. If there is investment, more jobs are created in order to ensure that Israelis will have employment and in order to ensure that unemployment will continue to be low.

This is a certificate of merit for the Israeli economy and an expression of appreciation for the manner in which we have run the government. Standard and Poor’s specifically noted the way in which this Government acted vis-à-vis the major economic crisis of 2008. It also expects us to continue acting responsibly and not to break the budgetary framework. They note that we have not broken the budget and they assess that it is within our power not to do so even as we respond to social problems and demands for social corrections in the framework of the budget.

Therefore, I would like to thank Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Bank of Israel Governor Prof. Stanley Fischer and, in the end, each of you, my fellow ministers, because this is really a certificate of honor for the Government, which together, as a collective, maintained the budget framework and did not allow it to be broken. This is what we have done and what we will continue to do."

2. In continuation of its 28 October 2007 and 18 January 2009 decisions, the Cabinet decided to take accelerated action to provide for the status of Bedouin communities in the Negev while addressing the issues of land ownership, and socio-economic development.

3. The Cabinet decided to enact a five-year plan (2012-16) in order to advance the economic development and growth of the Bedouin population in the Negev and promote the greater integration of Negev Bedouin citizens in the Israeli economy and society.