PM Netanyahu: I view Hamas as being directly responsible for any attack on the State of Israel that originates in the Gaza Strip.
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 1 August 2010:
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"Over the weekend, a GRAD rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas, at the heart of Ashkelon. Miraculously, no disaster occurred. Following this attack on a residential neighborhood, against our civilians and children, the IDF attacked military targets and terrorist nests in Gaza. Afterwards, a Kassam rocket was fired from Gaza at Sapir College and the IDF responded last night. I view Hamas as being directly responsible for any attack on the State of Israel that originates in the Gaza Strip, and this is how the international community must see things. Israel reserves the right to defend its citizens and we will continue to take all necessary measures in order to defend the State of Israel, Israeli citizens and Israeli children.
"In recent weeks, I have held meetings and talks with US, European and Arab leaders – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II. These talks were in coordination with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and I must say that they were good and substantive. I believe that they achieved one immediate goal – they created a better international climate for the start of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"I think that the international community, at least an important part of it, and certainly the US, expects the Palestinian Authority to put aside the claims, excuses and conditions, and enter into peace talks, not just in order to hold peace talks, but in order to achieve a peace settlement based on security. I reiterate that, from the Israeli standpoint, this most important item is the preliminary condition. While it is not sufficient in itself, security is a fundamental condition and a necessary condition for achieving peace and there will be no compromise in its regard by the State of Israel.
"I now call upon Abu Mazen to make a courageous decision in order to start peace talks with Israel, and I hope that he will accede not only to my call, but to that of many in the international community."
2. Pursuant to Article 6 of the 1988 Drug Control Authority Law, the Cabinet confirmed the appointment of Tzvi Hendel as a member of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority Council. The Cabinet also noted Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch’s intention to appoint Tzvi Hendel as Chairman of the Council.
3. The Cabinet discussed the issue of lowering the price of lots in the eastern Lachish area. The discussion is ongoing.
4. The Cabinet discussed the seasonal employment of foreign workers in agriculture and instructed the Director of the Interior Ministry Population, Migration and Border Crossings Authority to arrange for the employment of an additional 300 foreign workers from Sri Lanka for a period of up to six months, in the agriculture sector.
5. In the framework of the Cabinet discussion on the status of the children of people in Israel illegally, Prime Minister Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"While we have been discussing this issue for almost a year, the debate has been going on for many long years. On the one hand, this problem is a humanitarian problem. We all feel and understand the hearts of children. But on the other hand, there are Zionist considerations and ensuring the Jewish character of the State of Israel. The problem is that these two components clash. We are witnessing a great and increasing illegal migration from Africa, mainly via the open southern border, of tens of thousands of illegal labor migrants. There are those who say that there have been close to 500,000 migrants, and perhaps close to 1,000,000, in the past decade. This is a tangible threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel; therefore, we will make a decision that is balanced between the desire to take these children into our hearts and the desire not to create an incentive for continued illegal migration that could flood the foundation of the Zionist state.
"The committee has produced a balance between these two concerns. It calls for allowing those children who have largely become Israelis, who are here, have been educated here, have studied Hebrew and whose identity has already been formed, to stay here. On the other hand, it avoids creating an incentive lest hundreds of thousands of labor migrants, over 500,000, flood the country. We are committed to resolving this sensitive issue in a considered and balanced way, even if it may not jibe with momentary fluctuations of public opinion. We are committed to doing the right thing for the State of Israel and I think that we will do so today.
"I would add that this is, of course, only one of a series of steps regarding migration policy that we are adopting. I am constantly hearing about how ‘Israel must adopt a migration policy’ as if we have not done so. We have. We are establishing a barrier along the southern border that will be finished by 2013. We will find ways to expedite its construction. It will be, first of all, a physical barrier against the flood of illegal migrants.
The second thing that we have already decided upon is to step up enforcement and punitive measures against employers who illegally hire illegal labor migrants. We will add additional solutions to stop the flood of migration.
Israel is a small country of 7 million. We are a first world nation close to Africa, which has third-world countries. The magnet, the pull from Africa of a great human flow that is passing through Egypt – with almost 2 million illegal migrants of its own, who are gradually moving in our direction – is a tangible threat to the future of the State of Israel, which we cannot ignore. We will adopt a comprehensive policy. Today’s discussion will take into account our sensitivity toward children along with the need to ensure the future of the state of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people."