PM Netanyahu: “If Abu Mazen is really serious and intends to advance peace, as far as I am concerned, we can sit together immediately. Jerusalem and Ramallah are only seven minutes apart; I am ready to start negotiations today.”
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 4 November 2012):
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"I watched President Abbas’s interview over the weekend. I have heard that he has already managed to go back on his remarks. This only proves the importance of direct negotiations without pre-conditions. Only in direct negotiations will it be possible to clarify what the true positions are. Generally, I can say that if Abu Mazen is really serious and intends to advance peace, as far as I am concerned, we can sit together immediately. Jerusalem and Ramallah are only seven minutes apart; I am ready to start negotiations today. I will take this opportunity to again call on President Abbas to return to the negotiating table without pre-conditions because peace may be advanced only around the negotiating table and not via unilateral decisions in the UN General Assembly, which will only push peace further away and will only lead to instability.
I would like to address an issue that has accompanied us for years. If you remember six months ago it was in the top headlines. I mean the question of infiltrators. October’s data shows that only 54 infiltrators crossed the border last month and they were all – without exception – placed in detention. This means that none of them reached Israel’s cities. I remind you that only six months ago over 1,000 infiltrators were entering every month and this number was increasing. On the basis of these figures, one may explicitly say that we have blocked infiltration and now we must focus – and we are doing so – on repatriating the infiltrators who are already in Israel.
This brings me to the next topic and that is taking leave from my outgoing Military Secretary, Maj.-Gen. Yohanan Locker. I mention this because Yohanan was such an important part of spheres that were critical to our national security, to security in general and to the issue of infiltration. If there is someone that assisted me more than anyone else in building the ground barrier, in erecting the fence, it was Yohanan. From time to time I would assign him many tasks. He assisted me immensely with the release of Gilad Shalit and, of course, in many other areas, most of which I cannot detail here.
I asked Yohanan to be my Military Secretary after I was impressed by him during my visits to the Air Force, where he was an outstanding fighter and commander. I would like to thank him for his service to the State in the Air Force and afterwards as an outstanding Military Secretary. The public may not recognize the scope of his work, but I can say that it was considerable. Around this table, several ministers, perhaps all of them, are familiar with his capabilities, his equanimity, his sagacity, the vast experience that he brought, the professionalism and his pleasant manner, but more than anything, his abiding commitment to the State of Israel and its security, this was simply exceptional. I hope that he has set a norm for everyone but it is so genuine, so deep and so correct, at this time and always.
I would like to tell you Yohanan, on behalf of myself and the Cabinet, thank you. I am certain that you will continue to contribute in various ways to the People and State of Israel for years to come. A man such as you will yet contribute much. I will say more at the special ceremony that we will hold here. I am also certain that all ministers join me in expressing deep appreciation, also in the knowledge and hope that you will continue to contribute to the State of Israel."
2. The Cabinet marked National Road Safety Day.
3. The Cabinet, today (Sunday, 4 November 2012), unanimously approved economic benefits for Sderot and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip for 2013 .
4. The Cabinet discussed ways to improve the Government’s ability to formulate and administer a socio-economic strategy and decided, pursuant to its 10 September 2006 decision, which established the National Economic Council:
To establish institutions and processes that will provide a strong basis for Government strategic planning in the socio-economic field, including a Socio-Economic Strategy Division at the National Economic Council, the Senior Professional Forum for Strategic Planning and a Strategy Administration Team; and to recommend the formation of a Ministerial Committee on Socio-Economic Strategy.