The Cabinet began its discussion of the issue of economic measures for socio-economic change.
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 4 December 2011:
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"The benefits that we will discuss today will reduce housing costs and travel on public transportation, and are designed to assist in lowering gas and fuel prices. There is also additional news; those who buy products on the Internet will be exempt from taxes for purchases of up to NIS 1,000. I can already tell you that there is a proposal to increase this amount and make things easier for hundreds of thousands of citizens, if not more, who buy products over the Internet. All of these are additional steps that we are taking in continuation of the tax benefits that we have already approved, benefits that are worth hundreds of shekels a month.
We are capable of going this route thanks to the responsible way in which we have managed the Israeli economy, and we will continue to act responsibly as we give a genuine response to the socio-economic and security needs of the State of Israel in the face of the global economic upheaval and the geopolitical upheaval in our region.
These upheavals have other aspects as well. Several days ago, I visited Eilat and I heard the residents’ cry against the city’s being flooded with illegal infiltrators. One needs to stand there and listen to them, to hear the despair, there is no other word for it, the despair that rises from the mothers and fathers and business owners, who feel that they are losing their city and the ability to have a normative life, and who are concerned about going around the streets in the evening, and whose jobs are being taken away. Similar cries rise from other cities around the country, not only in the south, but in the center of the country, in Tel Aviv and its neighborhoods, and in many other places as well.
I see the phenomenon of being flooded by illegal, job-seeking infiltrators as a threat to the economy, to society, to security and to the delicate demographic fabric upon which the State of Israel is based. Following my visit to Eilat, I convened a special meeting of the ministerial team that is dealing with the various aspects of the problem. I am working to accelerate the completion of the fence that we decided upon last year. About half of it has been built and I asked that the holes be closed; I promised that the fence would be completed within one year. Teams are working on this and we have seen to it that the work will be carried out more efficiently.
At the same meeting, I directed that work be completed on the steps that will allow the imposition of heavier fines on employers. Those who employ infiltrators will be punished with very large fines. This is not now the case; this is about to happen. This is important because in the end, the incentive, the magnet that attracts illegal infiltrators, is no less important than the open border that we want to close.
We are determined to protect our border and our citizens’ jobs. This is the right of any country and it is the obligation of any government that is concerned for the future of its people."
2. In continuation of its 21 February 2010 decision on strengthening national heritage infrastructures and in recognition of the importance of the heritage and work of David Ben-Gurion, the cabinet decided to take action to preserve and upgrade the Ben-Gurion heritage site, including his hut and tomb, which are located at Ben-Gurion’s Tomb National Park in Sde Boker.
3. Pursuant to the 1959 State Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet approved the appointment of Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog as the head of the staff to implement the plan to provide status for the Bedouin communities in the Negev.
4. The Cabinet began its discussion of the issue of economic measures for socio-economic change – promoting competition, dealing with the cost of living and improving the public sector – and made a decision regarding reducing impediments to imports, i.e. a customs exemption on imports for self-use:
Goods imported by mail or by air freight, which are packed in one package or several packages, and which are designed for self-use according to Article 129 of the Customs Ordinance, except for tobacco products, alcohol and intoxicating beverages, shall be exempt from customs provided that the cost of the transaction is not more than NIS 1,200.
Pursuant to the Trajtenberg Committee recommendations, the Director of the Israel Tax Authority will appoint a team to evaluate the expansion of the personal importation of goods via the Internet in order to increase efficiency, lower costs and remove impediments throughout the process. This will be in consultation with the Israel Antitrust Authority Director-General David Gilo and Communications Ministry Director-General Eden Bar-Tal in order to increase competitiveness.