PM Netanyahu will depart for Poland to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the struggle against anti-Semitism, on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz camp.

 Cabinet communique


Israel Cabinet meeting (Photo: Reuters)

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 24 January 2010:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

I met this morning with [former] Senator George Mitchell and conveyed to him the appreciation that I and the Government of Israel feel for him and for President Obama for their continuing efforts to progress the diplomatic process.

Today, I heard some interesting ideas for resuming the process. We are very much interested in doing so, and I expressed my hope that these ideas bring this about. Certainly, if the Palestinians express similar willingness, we will find ourselves in a diplomatic process, something important to both them and us, and to anyone that strives to advance peace and reconciliation in our region.

On Thursday evening I phoned the head of the Israeli rescue team in Haiti. I told him that the State of Israel thanks him and the entire team for the wonderful way in which they have saved lives as well as for shining Israel’s light among the nations. I must say that when I decided to send the group on the morning when we first heard of the catastrophe I thought that they would do so, but I did not know just how much. I think that anyone who is impressed by their expertise, volunteerism, actions, professionalism and the spirit which they brought to this holy mission, knows just how much they represent the beautiful and true Israel.

Tomorrow, I will depart for Poland to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the struggle against anti-Semitism, on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz camp. I will be there with a number of Knesset Members and delegation from around the world.

Lastly, I will leave this meeting for Gush Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim in order to plant trees for Tu B’Shvat. We are in the week before Tu B’Shvat. I will also soon go to Ariel. Ariel is where we have now planted a university center. But we will also plant trees there. I think that this expresses the unity that exists between the people regarding the importance that these places will always remain part of Israel. I am confident, of course, that my ministerial colleagues share this view. I encourage them and all MKs to go and plant in the various parts of our country."

2. Public Affairs and Diaspora Affairs Minister, Yad Vashem Directorate Chairman Avner Shalev, and Yad Vashem Council Chairman Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau briefed ministers on the state of anti-Semitism and the struggle against it in 2009.

Prime Minister Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"The struggle against anti-Semitism is more crucial than ever, because there is a substantial growth in the expression of anti-Semitism since Operation Cast Lead. This anti-Semitism is springing from a new direction – and it is attempting to negate the Jewish State and its right to self-defense. We identify three types of countries. The first type stand proudly, aggressively and clearly against anti-Semitism – USA, Canada, Germany, France and many other countries.

The second type – countries which allow anti-Semitism and even lead measured anti-Semitism. Of course, an outstanding example of this is Iran, which is headed by someone who denies the Holocaust and spreads anti-Semitism in all directions. I believe that it is no coincidence that a synagogue was recently desecrated in Caracas, Venezuela.

There is a group of countries that allow and lead anti-Semitism on the level of government policy. In the middle there are many other countries that do not do enough, and no less worse, in the name of freedom of speech allow intolerable expressions of anti-Semitism, without condemnation. On one hand they are defending freedom of speech – and deny themselves the freedom of expression that every government, and society, has to condemn unacceptable phenomena.

We are not confused on this issue. We condemn anti-Semitism everywhere. Today, the Government will establish a special team in order to strengthen the struggle against anti-Semitism, and to encourage our allies and descent countries that have enlisted in the struggle."

3. In the framework of its discussion on the issue of anti-Semitism in 2009, the Cabinet decided to establish a team to recommend ways to step up the struggle against anti-Semitism around the world and to strengthen coordination between Government bodies, research institutes and NGOs that deal with the issue. Foreign Ministry Director-General Yossi Gal and Public Affairs and Diaspora Affairs Ministry Director-General Ronen Plott will chair the team, which will also include – inter alia – Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser and National Security Council Chairman Dr. Uzi Arad. The team will present its recommendations to the Cabinet within 120 days.

 4. Pursuant to Article 23 of the 1959 State Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet appointed Oded Sarig to be the Finance Ministry Director of Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings, effective 1.2.10.

5. The Cabinet approved draft legislation regarding persons illegally in Israel and authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to approve the final version of the bill.

6. The Cabinet continued to discuss its policy on foreign workers in Israel, in light of – inter alia – the negative influence that the increase in the number of foreign workers in the country has on increased unemployment among those with lower education levels, harm to the wages of Israeli workers and delays in efficiency measures and investments in sectors with a high number of foreign workers.

As of December 2009 there were approximately 255,000 foreign workers in the Israeli labor market:

Legal workers – Approximately 77,000 legal foreign workers are employed mainly in the nursing care, agriculture, construction, industrial and Asian ethnic restaurant sectors. Approximately 28,000 Palestinian workers with permits enter Israel daily and approximately 25,000 Palestinian workers with permits are employed in Israeli enterprises over the Green Line.

Illegal workers: Over 125,000 foreign workers are in Israel without permits. There are also approximately 19,000 persons in the country who have infiltrated across the Egyptian border, many of whom enter the illegal labor market. Approximately 25,000 Palestinians without permits are also believed to be working in Israel.

The proportion of foreign workers among total business sector employees in 2008 was 10.4; unemployment in 2008 stood at 6.1% (7.8% in December 2009). It should be noted that unemployment among Israelis with low education levels, who compete for jobs taken by foreign workers, is especially high.

In light of the foregoing, the Government will act in the following areas:

A) Increase enforcement against those who illegally employ foreign workers;
B) Reduce the number of persons illegally in Israel and removing them from the country;
C) Reducing incentives for bringing in foreign workers and dealing with illegal increases in brokers’ fees;
D) Increasing public awareness of the phenomenon of illegal foreign workers and of preferences for Israeli workers; and
E) Monitoring the implementation of the various Cabinet decisions on the issue of foreign workers.