PM Netanyahu: Israel aspires to achieve peace agreements with both the Palestinians and Syria.
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 7 February 2010:
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the meeting:
"Israel aspires to complete peace agreements with all of its neighbors. We did this with Egypt and Jordan, and we aspire to achieve similar agreements with both the Palestinians and Syria. Two principles dictate our approach to peace negotiations with our neighbors:
First, we will conduct negotiations without preconditions. We do not accept the idea that Israel must always make extraordinary concessions in advance while the other side is exempt from making its own concessions. It is negotiations that will bring about an agreement and we will not enter into negotiations when everything is known in advance.
Second, at the end of the negotiations we need to maintain the State of Israel’s vital national interests, especially security. It is doubtful whether any peace agreement that is unaccompanied by solid security arrangements on the ground can last. We want peace that will last for years, decades and generations and to this end, these components, especially security, are essential.
I hope that we are before the resumption of the negotiations with the Palestinians. We are open to the resumption of the process with the Syrians. While involvement in the negotiations is important for us, it is less important than the two abovementioned principles, in both the Palestinian and the Syrian arenas."
Prime Minister Netanyahu also said that the Cabinet would establish a team headed by National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel to formulate a national policy on reducing dependency on petroleum. Regarding the development of alternatives to petroleum, the Prime Minister noted that he had spoken on the issue with the heads of the German, Italian and Polish governments, who showed great interest in cooperation to advance the issue.
Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that the Cabinet would be briefed on the establishment of Israel’s fifth medical school, in Safed, and noted that he ascribed great importance to the idea because, "it would bring thousands of people – doctors, technicians and scientists – to the Galilee and would spur the revival of the area," as would the development of rapid transportation lines.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also announced that the Cabinet would approve support for organizations involved in encouraging immigration to Israel.
2. Prime Minister Netanyahu briefed the Cabinet on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s visit to Israel last week and said: "This visit was important both for bilateral relations and for our relations with what I will call ‘quality countries’ around the world. We have always known that Israel has been limited in its ability to achieve numerical support in various international forums. However, we know the key is hidden in the ability to enlist main countries, which wield diplomatic, economic – and, in certain stages, moral – influence. Therefore, the meetings – including the ministerial meetings – that we hold with Germany and Italy and, in the future, I hope, with Australia, Canada and Poland will form an increasingly larger group of quality countries, with which we are strengthening relations, including in a personal context. You will see, from the contacts with ministers, that the ability to resolve issues between ministries is facilitated by these meetings, which foster understanding about the State of Israel’s vital interests."
3. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz briefed the Cabinet on his recent visit to Canada and the US. He noted that while in Canada, he met with several Canadian ministers, including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and added that he discovered that there is great interest in expanding bilateral cooperation in the high-tech and bio-tech fields.
Regarding his visit to the US, Finance Minister Steinitz noted that State of Israel bonds were listed for regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Finance Minister Steinitz noted that he met with a large group of Israeli scientists and lecturers, who reside in the US, and had asked them to return home. Many of the latter replied that they were unable to do so due to a lack of positions for them at academic institutions and in other frameworks.
4. Education Minister Gideon Saar and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom briefed the Cabinet on the Council for Higher Education’s decision that Bar-Ilan University would establish a medical school, Israel’s fifth, in Safed.
5. Pursuant to previous decisions, the Cabinet decided to bring forward the date by which the debts of Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, and their cooperative associations, to the World Zionist Organization Rural Settlement Division would be forgiven forthwith.
6. The Cabinet decided to allocate various sums to organizations dealing in encouraging immigration to Israel in 2010.
7. The Cabinet decided to establish a national effort to develop technologies to reduce the global use of petroleum in transportation.