PM Netanyahu: Our existence here in our country depends not only on the strength of the IDF and our economic and technological might.  It is also anchored in our national legacy.

 Cabinet communique


Cabinet meeting (Reuters archive photo)

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today  (Sunday), 21 February 2010, at Tel Hai:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"Our existence here in our country depends not only on the strength of the IDF and our economic and technological might.  It is anchored, first and foremost, in our national and emotional legacy, which we instill in our youth and in the coming generations. It depends on cultural heroes and national symbols. It depends on our ability to recognize and explain the justice of our cause, and to underscore our links to the Land, first and foremost, to ourselves as well as to others. Therefore, I am honored to open today’s Cabinet meeting at Tel Hai, during the week in which we commemorate the 90th anniversary of the heroic battle in which Joseph Trumpeldor and his seven comrades fell, here at this site.

Today, we are due to approve a comprehensive plan, the largest ever, to strengthen the national heritage infrastructures of the State of Israel. We will do four things:

We will rehabilitate archaeological and Zionist heritage sites. We will build and enrich archives and museums. We are talking about approximately 150 sites.

We are due to invest almost NIS 400 million, with the assistance of 16 Government ministries. We will create two trails: An historical trail of archaeological sites from the Biblical, Second Temple and other eras in the history of the Land of Israel and a trail of the Israeli experience that joins the main sites which relate the history of a people’s return to its land.

We are at Tel Hai. Many of you are from Tel Aviv. Many young people are in Tel Aviv. They are familiar with Rothschild Boulevard and enjoy street presentations, festivals and nights out on the town. They enjoy pubs, cafes and the many contemporary cultural treasures to be found there, and this is good. It is good that the city is open to the world and good that the city is alive and moving forward. But at 16 Rothschild Boulevard, there is a small auditorium in which the State of Israel was declared. There, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, declared the State of Israel.

The hall is run-down. I am not saying that it is about to fall over but as far as the many young people and others, who flock to the street, to Rothschild Boulevard, are concerned, they do not know it. They do not visit it at all. And therefore, we will rehabilitate Independence Hall. From there to Tel Hai, north and south, we will enrich the State of Israel and its heritage so that Israeli families will be able to follow the historical trail and the Israeli experience trail, and become familiar with and strengthen their ties with this land.

I think that this has been long overdue. We started during my first term as Prime Minister, with the rehabilitation of 50 heritage sites, including this site. The rehabilitation that you see here came about as the result of that decision. But we will expand this to 150 sites. These sites include the Hebrew song archives and old films that relate the history of the early Zionist communities here, as well as writings, paintings and many other things that we want to save.

I think that this project is of the highest national value and, for at least some of the sites that have to do with global cultural assets, of the highest international value.

People must be familiar with their homeland and its cultural and historical vistas. This is what we will instill in this and coming generations, to the glory – if I may say – of the Jewish people.

Today, we will also make a separate decision on a new building for the National Library. This is the largest and most important reservoir of Hebrew literature and manuscripts in the world. We know that there too, pages are turning into dust. A new place and new means are necessary in order to both preserve and enable access to these treasures. We will use digitization and other 21st-century means to save our cultural assets. To this end, Yad Hanadiv (the Rothschild Foundation) has made a very generous donation. I am very grateful to them and I thank them on our behalf.

I would like to add three short comments.

– The list of sites submitted here is neither closed nor final. It can and will certainly include other sites. I also intend to include Rachel’s Tomb, to the rehabilitation of which the Jewish Agency has allocated NIS 20 million, and the Tomb of the Patriarchs.  Since I was asked, I would like to make my intentions clear, and this is what will be.

– The donations that we are talking about here are earmarks. The list submitted here is the Government’s earmarked budget, even though we hope to receive the assistance of many other elements.

– We will meet again this week in order to approve the national transportation plan that will join the Galilee and the other parts of the State of Israel in an accessible national transportation grid, and which will – inter alia – bring people to this wonderful place. I think that it will greatly contribute to bringing the periphery closer to the center and vice-versa, itself a great economic contribution."

2. The Cabinet decided to rehabilitate and strengthen Israel’s national heritage infrastructures by means of Government investment in the rehabilitation and preservation of tangible and intangible assets that express the national heritage of the Jewish People in its Land. To this end, the Cabinet approved a six-year plan for the rehabilitation and preservation of national heritage infrastructures. The cost of the plan, over six years, from sources in the state budget, is NIS 399 million.

The Government seeks to set in motion a wide-ranging process to rehabilitate, preserve, reconstruct and upgrade both physical and non-physical national heritage infrastructures and to ensure – via digitization – the preservation of these treasures for coming generations. Physical heritage is composed of archaeology, the legacy of Zionist buildings, museums and archives. Non-physical heritage includes dance, films, literature, traditional music, holidays and ceremonies, songs and the theater.
Today, an important part of national heritage infrastructures are neglected, abandoned or in disrepair. Part are unfit to convey their latent strength and do not touch a contemporary public. It is necessary to save remnants of crumbling buildings from the beginning of the Zionist enterprise, some of which are of international and tourist interest. These heritage infrastructures underscore the construction of Israel through the generations.

3. Regional Development, and Negev and Galilee Development, Minister Silvan Shalom briefed the Cabinet on issues and projects regarding the development of the Galilee in the fields of education, infrastructures, rural settlement and immigrant absorption.

4. The Cabinet decided to advance and support a renewal initiative for the National Library, in the framework of which, a new facility will be built for it in Jerusalem. The Cabinet expressed its gratitude and esteem to Yad Hanadiv (the Rothschild Foundation), which has expressed a willingness to bear most of the costs involved.

5. Science and Technology Minister Prof. Daniel Hershkovitz briefed the Cabinet on the activities of the MIGAL Galilee Technology Center.

6. The Cabinet approved a plan to encourage agricultural research and development.