(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met last night (Wednesday, 21 Feb 2007) with Minister Yitzhak Herzog and asked him to agree to be appointed Social Affairs Minister. Minister Herzog agreed.

Prime Minister Olmert lauded Minister Herzog’s achievements as Tourism Minister and in promoting tourism to Israel but added that since the struggle to reduce social gaps and poverty heads the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s list of priorities, it would be fitting for Minister Herzog to serve as Social Affairs Minister.

The Prime minister said that Minister Herzog would receive his and the Government’s full backing as Social Affairs Minister. Significant resources will be channeled to social issues; Government investments will be increased in – inter alia – treatment of youth at risk, the elderly, battered women and other populations in distress. It was agreed that Minister Herzog and the Social Affairs Ministry will be full partners in formulating the plan for the war on poverty and the reduction of social gaps that the Prime Minister is due to present soon. At Minister Herzog’s request, the Social Affairs Ministry will participate in all staff work on economic plans that have social repercussions before they are submitted to the Cabinet. 

The Ministry will be renamed the Social Affairs and Services Ministry. Minister Herzog will also chair a ministerial committee on social issues and social services.

In light of Minister Herzog’s abiding commitment to strengthening ties between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities, Minister Herzog will also be responsible for liaison with Diaspora Jewish communities and the struggle against anti-Semitism.