The Israeli economy stands out, positively, as a result of our responsible policy.

 Cabinet communique

 

Israel Cabinet meeting (Reuters archive photo)

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 15 January 2012:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"Standard & Poor’s has lowered the credit rating of nine countries, including leading European states. I point this out because a mere four months ago, the same credit rating agency raised Israel’s credit rating.

The Israeli economy stands out, positively, as a result of our responsible policy. We are not breaking the budgetary framework. We are upholding the first rule in managing an economy, whether of a family, a firm or a country; over time, one does not spend more than what one brings in, than what one makes. And if you did so, you make the correction gradually. This is what we are doing; we are not breaking the budget framework.

Alongside the foregoing, we have transferred major resources to the law on free education from age three. This is a social and national issue of the highest order. It is important to emphasize that we took care to finance this from other sources. All ministers here have contributed 4% of the ministries’ budgets, which has also allowed us to enact other reforms.

I think that this weekend has given prominence to the responsible way in which we are conducting matters. This is allowing us to maintain security, bring free education and maintain the budget. But this costs in other areas.

I said 4% because we have another responsibility, that of stopping the flow of illegal infiltrators, illegal work infiltrators into the State of Israel. To this end, ministers have also contributed 2% of their ministries’ budgets in order to complete the fence. The fence is being built and will be completed in another nine or ten months.

Last week, a law was also passed that will allow illegal infiltrators to be detained for up to three years. This is not to say that they must be held for this entire period. However, it changes the existing reality in which an infiltrator is detained and released after two weeks – and he makes his way to Eilat or Tel Aviv or some place else. This is a welcome and important change and it is necessary in order to maintain the character of the State of Israel, to ensure its future as a Jewish and democratic state. The third thing is that in the coming days we will impose fines against those who employ illegal infiltrators.

I believe that these three things – building the fence, stiffening punishments and fines – will lead to a change in the trend and thus we will stop this flood that we are all witnessing. I also point out that these actions are not directed against refugees, the numbers of which are negligible, in any case, within the number of overall infiltrators. We are talking about illegal work infiltrators. It is our obligation to defend our borders and this is what we will do."

2. The Cabinet approved Israel’s accession to the European Shoah Legacy Institute, which was established by the Czech government in order to assist in the restoration of Jewish property and advance research and education on the Holocaust.

The Ministry for Senior Citizens, under Deputy Minister Leah Nass, will – inter alia – be responsible, in coordination with the Foreign Ministry, for holding contacts with the Institute in order to determine Israel’s representatives to the various bodies that have been established within the framework of the Institute.

The Cabinet also decided to hold a joint concert of Verdi’s Requiem for Czech and Israeli artists, which will be held in the context of the Israel Festival.  The concert will be held in memory of the prisoners of the Theresienstadt ghetto in the Czech Republic, which was known for its rich cultural life, as much as conditions allowed, and from which the Nazis sent groups to their deaths at the Auschwitz extermination camp.

3. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, Israel Police Inspector-General Yohanan Danino and the Commander of the Israel Police Intelligence Branch briefed ministers on the Israel Police’s work plan for 2012.