The Cabinet approved the appointment of Matan Vilnai as Ambassador to China.

 Cabinet communique


Israel Cabinet meeting (Reuters archive photo)

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 12 February 2012:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"Last Friday saw the completion of the process to appoint Justice Asher Grunis as the President of the Supreme Court. I phoned him and congratulated him, on my behalf and that of the entire Cabinet. I told him that we are committed to strengthening the Supreme Court and maintaining its independence as one of the foundations of Israeli democracy. We have an exemplary judicial system that serves as a light unto the nations. When we see what is taking place in the nations around us, we can see the shining light of the Israel judicial system and I think that we have much to be proud of. I also welcome the important actions that have been taken to add judges, and the other steps that have been taken to facilitate  the proper functioning of the legal system.

I would also like to welcome the end of the strike, which was held over an issue that has been neglected for years, that of contract workers. I congratulate Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Histadrut [labor federation] Chairman Ofer Eini for reaching an important agreement that very much improves the employment conditions of contract workers. In my office as well, great personal efforts were made to provide a genuine equality of conditions. I think that these corrections are acceptable to the Israeli public as a whole. I think that this is a very important achievement that corrects, in part, decades-old distortions.

Third, today we will pass a plan to develop and rehabilitate the Dead Sea, another issue which has not been dealt with for many years. A significant investment was necessary but we succeeded in overcoming this thanks to the joint efforts of Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Finance Minister Steinitz. Today, their joint labors will come to fruition and we will deal with the Dead Sea.

Fourth, today we will appoint our friend Minister Matan Vilnai as Ambassador to China. I view the appointment of an Ambassador to China as an issue of national importance. We want to significantly increase our trade and economic ties with the rising powers of the east, especially China. We have many interests, including – for example – infrastructure projects that we are moving forward on, and would like to see these powers involved in them. Many of these issues are determined on the government level; therefore, it is important to me, and to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, to appoint a person of ministerial rank, who can achieve breakthroughs with China.

We all remember Minister Ora Namir who was there [as Ambassador, from 1996-2000], she did important work, and it is with great hopes that we are sending Matan. Since we are currently celebrating 200 years since the birth of Charles Dickens, let us say that we have great expectations.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Matan for his recent activity as Home Front Defense Minister. There have been great advances in this field, in the field of deterrence and in other fields, as well as in the field of active defense. Only recently were we informed of the success of the latest experiment of the Arrow, but as you know, this field was also neglected for many years. We moved forward on it and it must be understood that defending the State of Israel has two more important components – defending the home front and continuing to build up the State of Israel’s deterrent capability, which is based on our strength and national stamina – of both the leadership and the people. These are the three components that, in the end, determine the fortitude of the people and State of Israel. We are strengthening each of these three."

2. Pursuant to Article 23 of the 1959 State Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet approved the appointment of Matan Vilnai as Ambassador to China in place of Amos Nadai, who is concluding his tenure.

3. The Cabinet discussed Government care for Holocaust survivors and decided upon a division of responsibilities between the Senior Citizens Ministry, the Social Welfare and Social Services Ministry, the Health Ministry, the Finance Ministry Authority for the Rights of Holocaust Survivors and the Finance Ministry Bureau for Personal Compensation.

4. In continuation of its 1 January 2012 decision, the Cabinet decided to formulate a Government plan for 2012-2016 to deal with a range of issues related to the development and rehabilitation of the Dead Sea basin, including environmental protection, nature and heritage, employment, residential communities and tourism.