Our policy toward Jerusalem is the same policy of all Israeli governments in the past 42 years and it has not changed. From our point of view, construction in Jerusalem is like construction in Tel Aviv.
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 21 March 2010:
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"This evening I will leave for Washington to address the AIPAC Policy Conference, in the presence of many Senators and Congressmen. I will also meet with the Congressional leadership. I plan to speak about our policy – on both the peace and security issues, as well as about Iran and Jerusalem.
Our policy toward Jerusalem is the same policy of all Israeli governments in the past 42 years and it has not changed. From our point of view, construction in Jerusalem is like construction in Tel Aviv. These are the things which we have made very clear to the American administration. We also made it clear that in the proximity talks with the Palestinians, while each side will be able to raise its positions on the issues in dispute, a tangible solution to the fundamental problems between us and the Palestinians will be achievable only in direct peace talks. It cannot be otherwise. Only if we sit together, discuss the issues together and reach joint solutions, will we be able to reach a genuine peace agreement.
I think that it is very important that these matters not be left subject to commentary and speculation; therefore, I initiated the letter that I sent to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton so that these issues would be very clear. I must say that I sent the positions after consulting with my unanimous colleagues in the seven-member ministerial forum. I think that Israel’s position is very clear and it will also be so during my visit to the American capital."
2. The Cabinet discussed amendments to its 31 January 2010 decision regarding linking Haifa Bay to the natural gas infrastructures. Pursuant to the decision, Israel Natural Gas Lines, Ltd. began to lay pipeline in order to complete missing sections. According to the decision, landowners could join a special compensation arrangement by 20 March 2010. As of today, the Israel Lands Administration is working with several landowners who applied to join the arrangement; however, no detailed agreement has yet been reached.
Despite continued efforts, it appears that it will not be possible to reach a comprehensive agreement with the Druze community regarding entry onto Druze lands.
However, on 17 March 2010, three days before the 20 March deadline, Druze community representatives, including Sheikh Muafik Tarif, the mayors of Daliyat al-Carmel and Ussafiya, and landowners’ representatives sent a letter in which they requested several changes in the 31 January 2010 decision in order to make it easier to market the decision among the landowners and increase their confidence in the Government establishment after a years-long sense of neglect. They said that were the changes to be accepted, they expect and hope that work on the pipeline could proceed without interruption. The Cabinet decided to adopt the changes and extend the 20 March 10 deadline to 15 April 2010.
3. The Cabinet discussed additional budgetary outlays for community development in the eastern Lachish area, including the establishment of a new community.
4. The Cabinet discussed and approved a 2010-2014 plan for the economic development of communities in the minorities sector (including the Arab, Bedouin Druze and Circassian communities).
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"In the first stage, we have chosen 12 Bedouin and Arab communities, with approximately 400,000 residents. We will invest NIS 800 million in these communities in developing employment, housing solutions and strengthening human capital, and in boosting law enforcement and personal security.
It is important to us that alongside full civil equality before the law, which exists – of course – for all Israelis, that there be equality of economic opportunity in employment, infrastructures, education and quality of life, in the non-Jewish sector. Our goal will be to expand the initial plan to many other communities. I think that this is very important in our view of the State of Israel as a regional power and as a global technological power, that all of its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens be able to enjoy the benefits of internal prosperity and progress."
The plan will focus on 12 communities (Maghar, Sakhnin, Shfaram, Nazareth, Arrabe, Tamra, Daliyat al-Carmel-Isfiya, Tira, Kafr Kassem, Um al-Fahm, Kalansua and Rahat), that together include approximately 370,000 residents, and concentrate on four main areas: economic development for employment, housing and real estate, transportation access and personal security/law enforcement.
The plan will be based on the following principles:
A) Partnership with, and involvement by, local authorities in implementing the plan;
B) Maintaining program continuity, fostering stability and continuity in local authorities vis-à-vis implementation, including during changes in local administration;
C) Creating economic activity based on the communities’ relative advantages; and
D) Ensuring appropriate control and oversight of the plan.
The goals of the plan are as follows:
A) Increasing local residents’ per capita income;
B) Advancing and upgrading economic infrastructures in order to create appropriate conditions for economic development;
C) Increasing local authorities’ sources of revenue;
D) Developing human-professional and physical capital in local authorities; administrative systems;
E) Creating professional mechanisms in the local authorities that will support economic development and upgrading real estate markets;
F) Increasing human capital and
G) Increasing personal security, and both awareness of the issue of violence and the means to deal with it.
The Prime Minister’s Office Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab, Druze and Circassian Sectors will be responsible for administering the plan and will report to Minister Avishay Braverman, who is responsible for minority affairs, on progress in its implementation.
5. The Cabinet amended previous decisions regarding the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon in order to allow the construction of a structurally reinforced emergency room at an alternative site.