Cabinet communique


Cabinet meeting (Archive photo: Reuters)

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, 15 November 2009:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that today’s meeting would be devoted to the national effort to reduce alcohol use, especially among young people. He made the following remarks:

"We face an epidemic. In the last three years there has been a 15% rise in alcohol use in Israel. One-third of all young people between the ages of 12-18 report that they became intoxicated in the past year, which is a terrible statistic. Here is another statistic: Approximately 20% of sixth grade boys claim that they consume an alcoholic drink once a week. Sixth grade. That is the second highest in Europe.

We must act against this. We will take three immediate steps: One, we are initiating a legislative change to restrict the sale of alcohol to minors, expand the ban on alcohol use, and seriously increase the penalty for those who break the law in this respect. Second, we will increase enforcement of the prohibition against alcohol sales in many places. Third, we intend to create a public atmosphere which is against alcohol use, especially amongst youth, by means of various public educational activities. To this end, we will today allocate NIS 27 million for their immediate start.
I think that we face a turning point on this subject. Other countries took action and were successful. We are learning from them. The most important thing is to act, to act aggressively, and immediately – and this is what the Government will do."

Prime Minister Netanyahu also noted, "Today marks the beginning of Global Entrepreneurship Week in 110 countries. Israel leads in this field;  we are considered the start-up nation. We have very many entrepreneurs, and  I would like to commend them and the work being done academically and  technologically. There are also concrete things that the Government will advance in the economic field in order to guarantee that we maintain our qualitative edge, innovation and initiative, which are, ultimately, the key to Israel’s economic advantage."

2. Prime Minister Netanyahu briefed ministers on his recent visits to the US and France. He said, "In Washington, I met with the Jewish communities, the Jewish Federations; with leading senators; with the leaders of the joint committee  that met in order to impose sanctions on Iran; and, of course, I met with US President Barack Obama for a wide-ranging, private and fairly lengthy meeting.  In Paris, I met with the Finance Minister and I held a lengthy meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy. In my meeting with President Obama – which was, by the way, very warm and very direct – the two main issues that came up were, of course, Iran and the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

In contrast to the previous talks we had – especially the first conversation in Washington seven months ago, which was of a similar length – I think today there is a great understanding among the American administration, that Israel is prepared, and wants, to start diplomatic talks with the Palestinians on a peace agreement and the Palestinians simply do not want to: They find all kinds of excuses and evasions. The Americans well understand the details. They know that we have made various proposals in order to help create an atmosphere for talks. They also know about the restrictions that we have eased. They know about our speeches – they know everything and, for a change, given the information that they have accumulated, they also know that the Palestinians are constantly retreating, or are finding different ways, or are placing restrictions that they never have before, or pre-conditions that they have never made before, largely in order to evade these processes.

I think that when we discuss our international situation, it is important to know that our situation in the US is good. Moreover, I would like to say that support for Israel is very strong in the US.

The description of our situation in the US being made by certain people in Israel shows a vivid imagination – I am not talking about the details of my visit, but I do say that we have a very solid position there that is based not only on traditional values and cooperation. The American public has known some of those sitting around this table for decades and I am simply stating the facts.  This is certainly important; I think it produces a certain frustration on the part of the Palestinians because they expected to achieve in the American arena what they are capable of achieving elsewhere. But the American arena is different; it is genuinely different."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Diaspora and Public Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein added to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks. The Cabinet held a discussion.

3. Pursuant to Article 4 of the 1960 Israel Land Administration Law, the Cabinet appointed nine new members to the ILA Council.

4. The Cabinet decided to give a new name, the TENUFA Authority, to the authority known as SELA, which was established in Article 2 of the 2005 Disengagement Plan Implementation Law to take care of the evacuees from Gush Katif (the Gaza Strip) and northern Samaria.

On 9 August 2009, when the Cabinet met to mark four years since the evacuation, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, "We must take greater action, and soon, concerning our brothers whose lives were destroyed and we, as the Government, Governments of Israel, promised to rehabilitate the ruins of their lives. This means financial and social rehabilitation, rehabilitation in every sense of the word; but now and not later."

The State Commission of Inquiry into the issue of how the authorities have dealt with the evacuees from Gush Katif and northern Samaria, in its 16 September 2009 interim report, also called for a conceptual change in dealing with the evacuees.

In order to advance this conceptual change, a new spirit must be instilled in the rehabilitation of the evacuees. A conceptual change must take place in Government offices regarding the urgency in dealing with the evacuees. The issue of the evacuees must top the various ministries’ agendas. The awareness of both the evacuees and the public at large must change regarding Government treatment of the evacuees. To this end, it has been decided to rename the SELA Authority as the TENUFA ["Momentum" in Hebrew] Authority. At this stage, such a change will – for the Government, the evacuees and the public at large – signal the beginning of a new phase in dealing with, and rehabilitating, the evacuees, in which all sides will do their utmost in order to bring this process to a rapid end.

5. The Cabinet decided to extend financial assistance eligibility for working and student mothers among the evacuees from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria who have children in daycare.

6. The Cabinet decided to extend financial assistance eligibility for families in northern confrontation line communities with children in daycare.

7. The Cabinet decided to allocate NIS 400,000 to the Housing and Construction Ministry in order to plan a temporary residential site in Nir Akiva for eligible evacuees from Kfar Darom.