(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, 17 October 2010:
1. The Cabinet met at Kibbutz Degania [Aleph] to mark the kibbutz movement’s 100th anniversary.
At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"We are holding today’s meeting in the Pioneer’s Yard at Kibbutz Degania [Aleph] to mark the kibbutz movement’s 100th anniversary. I have come straight from the cemetery on the shores of the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee]. There rest the poet Rachel Bluwstein, Avraham Herzfeld, Naomi Shemer, Berl Katznelson, Moses Hess and many other men and women of letters and action, who led the Zionist movement and the kibbutz movement before and after the establishment of the State.
This is not my first visit here. I was here exactly ten years ago. I visited the petting zoo at Kibbutz Degania and met with the young children. Afterwards, we went to the cemetery and read some of Rachel’s poems, opposite the Golan Heights. I gained the impression then that the place spoke to the entire Jewish People, but that it is very hard to reach. I thought that one of the first things that we would do, should I be prime minister again, would be to upgrade this site, along with many other heritage sites. And here we are doing just that. We will indeed create infrastructures that will enable every child in Israel to visit this magical place on the shores of the Kinneret and to be inspired by it. We will also implement similar upgrades at other sites, including those within the various kibbutzim. The battlefield at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and the museum dedicated to Hannah Senesh at Sdot Yam must be renovated; likewise the home of A.D. Gordon here at Degania, the bunker at Kfar Etzion, site of the heroic battle, and many other sites inside and outside kibbutzim.
The story of the kibbutzim is a glorious account in the annals of the state: Rural settlement, security and both creative and practical endeavors. The people of the kibbutzim were rooted in the land. They worked the soil at dawn and stood in its defense after dusk. Therefore, we have a great debt to this institution and today we will submit for Cabinet approval a series of decisions in order to strengthen the kibbutzim, encourage agricultural and rural settlement, strengthen infrastructures and encourage tourism.
We are all familiar with the story of the tank at Degania – an attack from the north on the State of Israel was stopped here. But the threats and challenges have not ended, and we recently witnessed new threats, scorn and insults against the State of Israel. Unfortunately, we see that Lebanon is quickly becoming an additional Iranian satellite. This is a tragedy for Lebanon, but we in Israel will know how to defend ourselves and continue to build our country. Just as we have done since Degania was founded, since the State of Israel was founded, we extend a hand to those of our neighbors who want peace with us. We will succeed in building up the communities, towns and cities of the State of Israel in order to ensure our future in our homeland.
I think that it is important to tell all those gathered here today: The fact that we, the Government, are meeting here on the 100th anniversary of the kibbutz, perhaps the first time the Government has met at a kibbutz, is not perfunctory. It reflects a desire for unity and genuine cooperation among all sections of the people, to recognize all components of our heritage, which used to divide us but now unite us. The fact that we are mobilizing on behalf of heritage sites inside kibbutzim, including right here, and in several central sites that, I would say, unite the entire Jewish People, is very important and very encouraging.
There is another link that we want to forge, not vis-à-vis our heritage, but a physical one. This physical link will be a great change, in transportation first of all. I was a bit delayed here because I met with various officials in order to resolve the issues that yet vex us regarding extending rail lines and express highways to the Galilee. We are doing the same thing in the Negev, a revolution. We have allocated NIS 27 billion to this revolution. We will not need to wait until the decade is out; we already see the changes before our eyes. In my estimation, the major interchange at Yokneam, from which Highway #6 will go towards Kabri and the eastern spur towards Kiryat Shemona, will be finished in a year or two, an express highway with no traffic jams. From these, lateral highways will branch out across the Galilee; this is a revolution. We are talking about rural communities. The revolution will be that distances will be much smaller and quicker. We will see stronger populations and the development of new centers of employment – a great flourishing, the beginnings of which may be seen. We are doing this, not just making all sorts of promises. We are transforming thought into action. I would like to commend all those involved."
Kibbutz movement members thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for holding this important Cabinet meeting at kibbutz Degania [Aleph]. They noted the major importance of the kibbutz movement in the development of the State of Israel and Israeli society. They also discussed the vast potential of the kibbutzim to absorb and settle new members and to contribute to the further development of the country. They called on ministers to change the reality in the periphery so that the kibbutzim can absorb new families.
Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to their remarks:
"In order to complete this, we will need your assistance in enacting a main component of this reform, namely the reform of planning and construction. We will bring rapid transportation to the Negev and the Galilee, but we will be unable to develop the Galilee and the Negev at the same pace if we do not change our awful planning and construction bureaucracy. During the present Knesset session, we will submit a planning and construction reform. This reform will allow – under appropriate oversight and transparency – local elements to jump-start planning and development throughout the country. This will free us from the bureaucratic shackles that have simply left our country behind.
We have advanced on many fronts, in many areas, but we have also lagged in transportation infrastructure, planning, and the ability to allocate land and then build on it. Who but you knows how this genuinely impedes development. Do you want our help? I want help from each and every one of you, to break through this last barrier, this final logjam in the Knesset. We will develop and market plots of land. We will reach them quickly, on fast transportation routes. We will open the planning barrier. I think that the Galilee and the Negev have a very bright future, as do their kibbutzim, the moshavim and the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. We will all benefit from this. This meeting is significant for both unity and development and I thank you all."
2. Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Shalom Simhon, Social Welfare and Social Services Minister Yitzhak Herzog and Deputy Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Orit Noked briefed the Cabinet on their ministries’ contributions to the development of agriculture in Israel and to dealing with the kibbutzim, in the socio-economic sphere.
3. The Cabinet decided, in continuation of its 21.2.10 decision, which dealt with the plan to strengthen national heritage infrastructure, and in appreciation of the kibbutz movement on its 100th anniversary, to adopt the decision of the plan’s steering committee to include an additional eight sites in the plan. Click here for further details.
4. The Cabinet discussed the development and strengthening of the agricultural periphery and decided to instruct Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry Director-General Yossi Yishai and Finance Ministry Budget Director Dr. Udi Nissan to prepare – within 60 days – a plan to absorb new families in the periphery, to be employed in agriculture.
5. The Cabinet discussed the issue of renovating infrastructures in rural communities in order to promote development and community renewal and instructed Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Simhon to appoint a working team chaired by Director-General Yishai or his representative, and with the participation of senior officials from the Finance Ministry, the Construction and Housing Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, to advance and implement a multi-year plan to renovate rural communities’ physical infrastructures.
6. The Cabinet discussed the establishment of a Government company to build and manage a wholesale market for agricultural produce in the Greater Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Click
7. The Cabinet decided to appoint a committee to recommend to Prime Minister Netanyahu a comprehensive policy on the management of agricultural land.
8. The Cabinet appointed a ministerial committee, to be chaired by Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the development of rural communities.