(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 17 January 2010:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"I would like to say a few words about the horrific tragedy that took place in Haiti. What happened there is a large-scale disaster of very great proportions. The lack of protective measures only deepened the tragedy. I think that it is our obligation, as the State of Israel, as the state of the Jewish people, to mobilize immediately – and this we have done. As soon as I learned of the dimensions of the disaster, I ordered that a team be dispatched. It left with the speed characteristic of the IDF, in coordination with the Foreign Ministry.

The defense establishment sent a team which has begun to work and is already saving lives. It is a field hospital with doctors, x-ray machines and other vital pieces of equipment that are in short supply in Haiti. I think that this is in the best tradition of the Jewish people; this is the true covenant of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. This follows operations we have carried out in Kenya and Turkey; despite being a small country, we have responded with a big heart. The fact is, I know, that this was an expression of our Jewish heritage and the Jewish ethic of helping one’s fellow. I hope that the team saves lives and that Haiti succeeds in recovering from this awful tragedy.

Tomorrow, I and several ministers, including Foreign Minister Liberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, will be leaving for Germany. We will hold annual discussions, which take place alternatively here and in Germany. Now it is Germany’s turn and we will go there. We ascribe great importance to our good relations with Germany. They have major consequences for the Israeli economy, our diplomatic struggle around the world and for the security of Israel."

The Cabinet noted that Prime Minister Netanyahu will leave for Germany, at the invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel, in attend to the Israeli and German governments’ consultative forum tomorrow (Monday), 18 January 2010. Pursuant to Article 16 of Basic Law: The Government, Minister Moshe Yaalon will serve as Acting Prime Minister for the purposes of summoning and conducting meetings of the Government in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s absence, should this prove necessary.

2. Pursuant to Article 22A of the 1998 Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law, and in consultation with Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and Social Welfare and Social Services Minister Yitzhak Herzog, the Cabinet appointed Ahijah Kamara as Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Commissioner.

3. Pursuant to Article 53 of the 1965 Planning and Construction Law, the Cabinet approved a detailed blueprint for the western section of the Ben-Gurion International Airport – Jerusalem railway line.

4. Pursuant to Article 53 of the 1965 Planning and Construction Law, the Cabinet approved a detailed blueprint for the eastern section of the Ben-Gurion International Airport – Jerusalem railway line.

5. In continuation of its 8 February 2009 decision and given the importance of training future civil servants, the Cabinet approved the recommendations of the steering committee on public administration cadets regarding the founding of a civil serve cadets training program.

6. The Cabinet continued its discussion of the foreign workers issue. The discussion will be continued next Sunday.

7. Pursuant to article 18 of Basic Law: The President of the State, the Cabinet approved President Shimon Peres’s departure on a state visit to Germany – at the invitation of German President Horst Kohler – and Switzerland, from 25-31 January 2010, in order to attend International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust events and the World Economic Forum annual meeting, respectively.

During his visit to Germany, President Peres will address the Bundestag, hold diplomatic meetings and meet with local Jewish community leaders. He will be accompanied to Germany by a delegation of Holocaust survivors, young people, students and MKs.