Today we start the Government’s fourth year in office.
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 1 April 2012:
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"Today exactly, we will start the Government’s fourth year in office. This is the most stable Government in the last 20 years and it is a Government that gets things done, a lot of things.
Israelis feel safer thanks to the Government’s vigorous security policy. They feel safer thanks to the major budgets we are investing in home front protection, with emphasis on the purchase of Iron Dome batteries. Additionally, there is the security fence along the Sinai border and other actions we are undertaking to increase security.
Israelis also feel that the economy is more stable and secure. We have fared very well in the face of the global economic crisis. The economy here is growing despite the global crisis, and unemployment is at its lowest since 1983.
There is nothing more social than an economic policy that creates jobs. Jobs are the most social thing there is and only someone who goes to the welfare office and has no income and no self-image before his family knows the effect of major unemployment.
Growth has allowed the Government to invest in all areas – highways, railways and interchanges. We are investing great sums in order to draw the Galilee and the Negev closer to the center of the country. We are carrying out unprecedented revolutions in education – from pre-school up to the NIS 7 billion we are investing in rehabilitating and advancing higher education. We are doing all of this in order to invest in the future. But today, the future is here – here behind me.
Today, five young people from the many hundreds who contacted me on Facebook – Hila, Roi, Sari, Yuval and Nestia – are here behind me. In a few moments, they will present us with their suggestions for legislation.
But before that, I would like to comment on the price of gasoline. Last night, I decided – along with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz – on a reduction in the price of gasoline that has been set by the global market. For the fourth time within a year, we lowered taxes on gasoline by the cumulative amount of NIS 0.80. I must point out that today, taxes on gasoline in Israel are smaller than in many European countries.
I would like to make it clear – we do not control world gasoline prices. The price of gasoline is rising all over the world, in all countries. What we can do is to try and ease the burden on citizens in a responsible and measured way, and this is what we are doing. However, we are constantly maintaining the budgetary framework. Therefore, later this week, I will submit to the Cabinet a proposal formulated by Finance Minister Steinitz to deal with maintaining the framework. Whoever says that it is possible to lower taxes and broaden expenditures without making an account lacks economic knowledge and is irresponsible.
We need the taxes in order to purchase additional Iron Dome batteries, in order to complete work on the fence, in order to finance free education for children, in order to pave highways and build railways, in order to help the elderly and the needy. By the way, in the past two years – for the first time in many years – the poverty index has begun to decline. The number of poor people in the State of Israel dropped for the first time in years because we have invested in the elderly and have encouraged the ultra-orthodox and Arabs to join the work force. For the first time, the clock is turning.
I am saying all of this because we must tell it like it is. I commend Finance Minister Steinitz and the Finance Ministry for their responsible conduct and because this time as well the budget for financing the tax reduction will be taken from a process of enacting greater efficiency in the Government. This time as well, we will not break the budgetary framework and thus we will maintain the Israeli economy in the face of the global crisis.
A successful fourth year to us all."
2. Five young people, who suggested ideas for change and improvement, appeared before the Cabinet:
- Hila Osovsky suggested placing recycling bins in all schools;
- Roi Ben-Amram suggested imposing stiffer punishments on those who abuse animals;
- Sari David suggested that participation in elections be made compulsory;
- Yuval Levy suggested restricting the use of cellular telephones on public transportation;
- Nestia Panchinko suggested that a study program on "preparing for life" be introduced into schools.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and several ministers commented on their suggestions.
3. Pursuant to Article 12 of the 1959 State Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet appointed Rotem Peleg as Director-General of the Public Security Ministry in place of Yaakov Ganot, who is concluding his duties.
4. Pursuant to the 2009 Inclusion of Biometric Means of Identification and Biometric Identification Data in Identity Documents and Databases Law, the Cabinet discussed the function and authority of the Director for Biometric Applications.
5. In light of the unique tourism qualities of Tiberias and its potential development as a tourism center on the Sea of Galilee, as well as the city’s upcoming 2,000th anniversary, the Cabinet approved a plan to develop and strengthen its tourism potential.
6. The Cabinet approved the planning and construction of a national network of birdwatching centers in the Negev and the Galilee at a cost of approximately NIS 37 million. According to the plan, four new birdwatching centers will be built – in Sde Boker, Ein Gedi, Lotan and Hatzeva – and three existing centers – in Kfar Rupin, Maagan Michael and Eilat – will be upgraded. The goal of the decision is to promote tourism, education, environmental awareness and research.
Israel’s location at the meeting point of three continents constitutes a main migration route for 500 million birds that fly – in the autumn – from Europe and western Asia to Africa and back – in the spring. Israel, which is relatively small in size, nevertheless attracts approximately 540 species. This combination of a great quantity and considerable variety of birds, alongside excellent tourist infrastructure and pleasant weather, make Israel a paradise for birdwatching.
7. The Cabinet commended the Government’s steps to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China and believes that these ties will greatly contribute to economically strengthening the State of Israel. To these ends, the Cabinet decided to:
- ratify the agreement on cooperation in technological innovations and industrial research and development that has been signed between the governments of the State of Israel and the People’s Republic of China; and
- authorize Industry, Trade and Employment Minister Shalom Simhon and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman to be responsible for implementing the agreement.
8. The Cabinet decided that Israel would accede to the international Open Government Partnership and discussed the appointment of the "Israeli Open Government Forum".
9. Finance Minister Steinitz briefed the Cabinet on the steps being taken by the Finance Ministry regarding state guarantees for loans taken out by the Israel Electric Corporation in order to purchase fuels; this is in light of regional and global developments in the energy field, including the increase in fuel prices.