Our goal is not just to resume the process, but to advance it in such a way that it cannot be halted in a few weeks or months, in order to try and reach a framework agreement ahead of a peace settlement.

 Cabinet communique


GPO archive photo

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 24 October 2010:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"We are holding intensive contacts with the American administration in order to restart the diplomatic process. Our goal is not just to resume the process, but to advance it in such a way that it cannot be halted in a few weeks or months, and will enter into approximately one year of continuous negotiations on the fundamental problems, in order to try and reach a framework agreement ahead of a peace settlement.

In these negotiations, we will – of course – uphold the vital interests of the State of Israel, with security first and foremost.  We expect the Palestinians to honor their commitment to hold direct negotiations. I think that any attempt to bypass them by appealing to international bodies is unrealistic and will not give any impetus to a genuine diplomatic process. Peace will only be achieved through direct negotiations and I hope that we will fully return to this track soon."

Prime Minister Netanyahu also referred to MK Mordechai Gafni’s proposal:

"There is a situation here that prevailed for 30 years regarding income assurance for ultra-orthodox yeshiva students; this is not new. It existed under all governments, including those of Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Ariel Sharon, the Kadima government and also my government. We have been asked by the High Court of Justice to address this issue. We were told – and I would like to be precise with the High Court’s words – you cannot continue with this arrangement without legislation.  Therefore, legislation is called for.

In the coalition agreement with which we established this Government, we committed ourselves to this; we promised to resolve this problem. Therefore, there is nothing new here, even though there is an unfair turning against us as if we were doing something new and changing the order of the world, and it is very easy for some people to jump on a populist bandwagon. There is nothing new in this.

What is new here? The new thing that we are trying to do, at this opportunity, is that if we are already legislating on the matter, is to include provisions that would encourage the ultra-Orthodox public, ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, to integrate into the workforce.

We will establish a team to examine the various changes, within two weeks.  Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Eyal Gabai will chair the team, which will include National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel and representatives of the Finance, Education, Justice, and Industry, Trade and Labor ministries, as well as of the National Insurance Institute. The team will also examine the possibility of presenting draft legislation on the issue."

2. Pursuant to Article 31b of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet decided to transfer to Minister Yitzhak Herzog the authority formerly vested in Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Shalom Simhon under the Forestry Order.

3. Pursuant to its 13 June 2010 decision, the Cabinet decided to adopt the main recommendations of the State Commission of Inquiry on the Water Economy and made provisions for implementing them (see below).


Cabinet approves recommendations of the State Commission of Inquiry into the water economy
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The main recommendations are:
* Instilling the ideas of the prudent use of water and water-saving as nationally important public values;
* Building a master-plan for the management and development of the water economy, which will address priorities, the production of water from various sources, limitations and a plan for years of drought and global climate change;
* Greater efficiency in water and sewage infrastructures, municipal construction and the collection of wastewater;
* Setting water prices that fully reflect costs.  Water prices will be uniform but graduated prices will be set in proportion to quantities consumed while assuring quantities at a reasonable price.  Government assistance to various population groups will be from the state budget;
* Setting enforcement and rules and regulations in order to ensure the efficient and fair implementation of policies, with transparency and an openness to hearing views from the public;
* Establishing a public water and sewage council, in addition to the Water Authority Council, to be chaired by the National Infrastructures Minister.  The Council will be entitled to request information from state institutions, advise the National Infrastructures Minister and voice its opinion on matters regarding the water and sewage economies, while publishing its views.
* Establishing a "Water Quality Information Center" to coordinate data regarding drinking water quality.  The Center will be updated, open and accessible to public scrutiny.
The Cabinet also decided to instruct the Water Authority to coordinate the necessary staff work for implementing the recommendations and, report on its activities to both the National Infrastructures Minister and the above-mentioned professional team.  On the basis of the Water Authority’s professional opinion, the National Infrastructures Minister will – in coordination with the Finance and Environmental Protection ministries – prepare the necessary legislative amendments.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Prof. Bein and the professional team members for their comprehensive and thorough work on this vital issue and said: "Israel’s water economy has been in a severe situation for some years.  The recommendations that the Cabinet has approved today will allow for the balanced and correct management of the water economy, both in the immediate term and for coming generations."