The Cabinet decided to implement the law on free education for children from age three, as of the next academic year.

 Cabinet communique

 

PM Netanyahu at Israel Cabinet meeting (Photo: Reuters)

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 8 January 2012:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"Education and security are at the top of the Government’s list of priorities and today we are submitting draft decisions that will very much strengthen these two areas.

I will speak about education first. We are in the midst of an education revolution. We enacted changes in schools, significant reforms. We saved higher education. We established centers of excellence. Israel is now attracting Israeli researchers from the best universities around the world. Thus we are cultivating this tree, its stock and its branches. Now we are going to the roots. We are going toward our small children, from age three, and we are bringing them into the free education law. This has been spoken about for 63 years and still has not been done – and here we are doing this as well. This is a welcome step. We are helping young couples. We are helping weaker families. We are helping working families. But first of all, [we are helping] young couples.

One must understand that this year there are 250,000, a quarter of a million, children in this age bracket who will be included in the free studies law. This is more than double what it was previously. This is a very great addition and they will not pay anything. This is the first thing.

The second thing, we are helping weaker families, also in the periphery. We are helping them with parents’ fees, fees for school and for [class] trips. Many families lack the means. We are also helping youth movements; we are also increasing their budgets.

The third thing, we are helping working families. Part of the proposal here is to significantly increase afternoon daycare, and daycare, and allow mothers and fathers who want to go to work to do so, because afternoon daycare is until 16:00. This is a social, educational and – in my opinion, in the end – an economic blessing of the first order. This decision is among the main recommendations of the Trajtenberg report, and we are going to implement it, and I think that this is both essential and a genuinely revolutionary change.

Now, we have a second need; the second need is security. Any sensible person sees what is happening around us. We see what is happening from the Atlantic Ocean, from Morocco, to the east; everyone sees this. And these changes have consequences, I would say, strategic [consequences], for the national security of the State of Israel, for our ability to deal with the new challenges that we face, in new areas, over new weapons, and over the question of regional stability and instability. All of these have been taking place in recent months and we must draw the necessary conclusions. I think that this says that not only can we not cut the security budget, but we must increase it. We are submitting this decision today.

The third focus is how to balance these two items – the need, on the one hand, to provide free education for children from age three, and the second need to strengthen the security budget. There is no creation ex nihilo especially when we are implementing a responsible economic policy. This means that we are not breaking the budget framework. Therefore, the financing here will come from an across-the-board cut in Government ministries, from structural changes that will be made, first of all in the security establishment, which up until today have not been made, I think that this is also welcome, and – of course – from changes in the various ministries’ order of priorities. This is in order to meet education needs, security needs and economic needs. We are balancing this triangle.

No decision is easy; this is difficult. Decisions are needed here. Decisions that change orders of priorities are always tough and painful. But this is the meaning of leadership. Leadership is meaningless if you say also this and also this and also this without limit – there can be no such thing. We are now determining that education is important, that the free education law for children is good for young couples and weaker families is essential for the State of Israel. We are determining that security is essential and we will enact the change in the order of priorities accordingly."

2. The Cabinet approved the following Foreign Service appointments:

* Shaul Kamisa-Raz, Ambassador to Bulgaria;
* Dan Stav, Ambassador to Uzbekistan and non-resident Ambassador to Tajikistan;
* Meirav Eilon Shahar, Ambassador to Vietnam and non-resident Ambassador to Laos;
* Dorit Shavit, Ambassador to Argentina and non-resident Ambassador to Paraguay; and
* Eli Tasman, Ambassador to Kazakhstan and non-resident Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.

3. The Cabinet approved the decision of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation regarding the draft 2011 Sports Law.

4. The Cabinet decided to expand the health services basket for 2012.

5. The Cabinet decided on changes in the priorities in the state budget in wake of the recommendations of the Trajtenberg committee. It decided to implement the law on free education for children from age three, as of the next academic year, to fund the foregoing by an across-the-board cut in Government ministries’ budgets, and to increase oversight and transparency vis-à-vis the defense budget.