MKs Amir Peretz (l) and Gilad Erdan at exchange-of-ministers ceremony. Photo: Tomer Zmora
Incoming Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz: Together we will build an environmental "Iron Dome" for the benefit of future generations
MKs Amir Peretz (l) and Gilad Erdan at exchange-of-ministers ceremony 
Photo: Tomer Zmora 
​Amir Peretz officially took over the reins of the Environmental Protection Ministry from outgoing Minister Gilad Erdan, during an exchange-of-ministers ceremony today, March 19, 2013. Erdan, who has served as environmental protection minister for four years, said that during his tenure "we have significantly reduced the environmental differences between [Israel] and the West." He noted that hundreds of thousands of Israeli families are enjoying the fruits of the green revolution thanks to the ministry’s work, though he acknowledged "the road to a clean and healthy environment is still a long one."

Newly-appointed Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz: I have never been apathetic to injustices that have occurred before my eyes, and here too, I intend to stand up for the weak [who cannot defend themselves] – for the beaches, against those who want to develop them; for the rivers and streams, against those who want to harm them; for the animals, against hunters; for desert areas that are likely to be hurt by formidable bulldozers that cannot see anything in front of them; and for forests that are vulnerable to being cut down or turned into garbage dumps."

Outgoing Minister Gilad Erdan: "We have managed to convey the importance of the environment, and today, environmental considerations are integral in the decision-making process in the government and the economy. It is clear to everyone that Israel must keep up with the global market, which already understands that a green economy is not only the most beneficial one, but will allow us to live in and enjoy a better and healthier environment."

Peretz noted that he intends to make the right decisions as minister, but that his first priority is to do justice for the environment. "Not to do charitable acts for it, nor to take pity on it, but to accomplish true environmental justice. All my life I have fought for social justice, but social justice cannot be seen as separate from environmental justice." He added, "Together we will build an environmental Iron Dome for the benefit of future generations."

Erdan reviewed the achievements of the ministry over the past four years, including: the recycling revolution and passage of a packaging law, saving beaches from being taken over by hoteliers, preserving open spaces and establishing metropolitan parks across the country, preventing establishment of another coal-powered electricity plant in Ashkelon, increasing the ministry’s budget, and improving the ministry’s enforcement powers.

Erdan, who will serve as home front defense minister and communications minister in the new government, wished Peretz luck and noted that he will take the environment into consideration in all his future decisions.