The Cabinet approved the significant expansion of the health basket by NIS 300 million to include medicines and medical technologies for preventative and therapeutic treatment.

 Cabinet communique


Isael Cabinet meeting (Reuters archive photo)

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 30 December 2012):

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon made the following remarks:

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

"Today, the Cabinet will decide on expanding the medicines basket by NIS 300 million, a very significant expansion. There are very important medicines and medical technologies, including preventing cervical cancer among woman, breast cancer, pre-natal tests and advanced pregnancy treatments. All of this is preventative and therapeutic treatment. I think this is very important news for the public. We have done much and we are doing even more. We have still have much to do.

This is also true in the second field that we will be briefed on today, the communications field. We will be briefed by Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon. I said that we have done much, beginning with cancelling opt-out fines, the ‘Eden Plus’ digital converter, which saves hundreds of shekels for hundreds of thousands of families in choosing channels, to the major reform in cellular phones that has led to savings of hundreds of shekels a month for families, and has simply led to competition and lower prices.

This is what we have done; now, what we intend to do. We will discuss this today, the revolution that is underway, that we have prepared for together, and this revolution is in the field of fiber optics. We spoke about this when we were in Kiryat Shmona two years ago. We said that we would start the fiber optics revolution in Kiryat Shmona. The main idea is to enable every home in Israel to hook up to fast Internet, of 100 mega; this is super-fast, and to do this, of course, at low prices. This promise as well, this revolution, we are advancing. We are currently advancing the processes that will lead to the start of hooking Israel up to fast Internet.

Now, what is the significance of all this? The first significance is that you are closing gaps because you are allowing every home, including homes in the periphery, to be linked to things related to culture, education and health. You receive services in all these areas via the Internet and you close, I call this ‘digitally closing the gap’. Just as we are cancelling the periphery by paving fast highways and rail lines to the Galilee and the Negev and are drawing the entire country closer to one big center, the same exact thing is happening with the Internet. We are paving fast electronic highways in order to enable this link and to cancel the existing technological gap. This is very significant. I would like Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon to say a few words."

Communications Minister Kahlon: "Mr. Prime Minister, I will not forget that I came to your home on Balfour Street at 23:00 and I told you: Prime minister, there is an idea to advance an initiative regarding fiber optics. At 23:00, you called Eugene Kandel and told him: Listen, the revolution, cancelling the gaps, knocking down social walls, are contained in this idea. It took you three minutes, I will not forget it. It took you three minutes and since then you have backed and assisted us, along with the Finance Ministry, which did major work for this initiative last week. There is one major offer to interconnect, God willing, the State of Israel in the next three months.

As you said, this revolution is a social, scientific and educational revolution, among the greatest that the State of Israel has yet seen, and I would like to tell you that only two countries in the world have begin to lead in this area, and it finds expression in their rates of growth. They are Australia, which is now starting, and the Republic of [South] Korea. Each additional 10 mega of speed is an additional 1.2% in growth. This means, understand what we are talking about. Today, our average in the State of Israel is 2.5 to 5 mega. Let’s say that the companies won’t argue with me. It is enough that I am near the end of my term, it is not necessary, gentlemen, enough. We are going to raise it to 100, we are going to raise it to 100. This is amazing and will affect every aspect of our lives."

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Thank you, Moshe. First of all, thank you for your welcome work, not just in this field, but regarding the entire communications revolution: Lowering prices, cancelling monopolies; these are very important things that you focused on and I think that the citizens of Israel see the results.

Regarding the revolution, the fiber optics revolution and the fast Internet, one must understand that we are going to close gaps and we are also going to be world leaders. We have an advantage not just in technology that we are going to apply, but we also have an advantage in that we are small. Usually there is no advantage in being a small country. In this regard, there is an advantage because the ability to connect all homes in Israel and every family in Israel in every community in Israel to rapid fibers, is an advantage that we can do as a small country.

Everyone connects with the future, every Israeli child connects with the future. Every Israeli child can connect to the global Internet and receive services at home and receive information directly in the best possible way. We will jump forward and we will get a jump on the other countries of the world in this as well. We have done much. We have much yet to do. We intend to do it."

2. The Cabinet today (Sunday, 30 December 2012), unanimously approved an approximately NIS 300 million expansion of the health basket .

3. Communications Minister Kahlon and Communications Ministry Director-General Idan Bar-Tal briefed ministers on the reforms that have been implemented in the communications field.