PM Netanyahu: We are currently carrying out several important missions: Rehabilitating the communities, dealing with the evacuees, rehabilitating the Carmel forests, and quickly implementing the two main lessons – establishing a national fire and an aerial firefighting force. 

 Cabinet communique


Government Cabinet meeting (Reuters archive photo)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 12 December 2010):

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the rehabilitation of the communities that were hurt in the Carmel wildfire:

"Last week the Government worked intensively in order to rehabilitate the communities that were hurt in the Carmel wildfire and to assist the citizens who were evacuated from their homes.  I instructed Government ministries to unite their forces and act so that dealing with those who were hurt in the fire, and the infrastructures, will be detailed, efficient, focused and – above all – quick, in order for normal life to be restored as quickly as possible.

The team of director-generals chaired by Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Eyal Gabai has already toured the area, met with residents and begun the work of rehabilitation. We allocated NIS 4.5 million, for preliminary rehabilitation, to the Carmel Coast Regional Council and NIS 3 million to Isfiya. Today, another NIS 1 million will be transferred to Daliyat Al-Carmel and another NIS 2 million to Tirat Hacarmel. The families that were left without a roof over their heads have already received NIS 2,500 per person in assistance, i.e. an average of NIS 10,000 per family. This is to help them with basic needs. Additionally, the Social Welfare and Social Services Ministry is allocating almost NIS 500,000 in preliminary assistance for clothes and medicines. The Construction and Housing Ministry is preparing a detailed plan to repair the physical damages to infrastructures and buildings.  The Transportation Ministry is already carrying out work in the field to repair transportation infrastructures. The Environmental Protection Ministry will submit – by the end of the month – a plan to restore the animals and plants of the Carmel forests. The other ministries, each in its own field, have also joined in, responsibly and with full force.

In order to hasten the work and reduce bureaucracy, today I am submitting a draft proposal to cancel the need for tenders in the rehabilitation work. This is one of the greatest things that could cost us in the months ahead and, therefore, today we will cancel the need for tenders as part of the Government’s special effort to hasten the rehabilitation work.

By the end of this month, or at our meeting next Sunday, or by the one after that, but no later, we will submit to the Cabinet a draft decision on a national fire authority, and this is in addition to the decision that we have already made to allocate an additional NIS 100 million to the Fire and Rescue Service in order to deal with shortages. The decision, which we made before the fire, followed the urgent request of Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

We are currently carrying out several important missions: Rehabilitating the communities, dealing with the evacuees, rehabilitating the Carmel forests, and quickly implementing the two main lessons – establishing a national fire and an aerial firefighting force.  We are urgently advancing these two issues and decisions in their regard will be submitted forthwith."

2. Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Gabai briefed the Cabinet on the progress of the rehabilitation and assistance efforts. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan added various details, Following a topical briefing from PMO Dir.-Gen. Gabai, the Cabinet decided to exempt the aforesaid efforts from tenders.

3. The Cabinet decided to continue development of the Dan Region Light Rail Transit.

4. Pursuant to article 31b-d of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet decided to transfer the Interior Minister’s authority under the 1949 Firearms Law to the Public Security Minister, and the Firearms Licensing and Supervision Administration from the Interior Ministry to the Public Security Ministry.

5. The Cabinet discussed Minister Meshullam Nahari’s appeal against the Ministerial Committee on Legislation’s decision regarding MK David Rotem’s and MK Robert Ilatov’s draft legislation on conversions to Judaism in the framework of the IDF.  The issue was not settled.

6. National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau and Water and Sewage Authority Director Prof. Uri Shani briefed the Cabinet on the emergency situation of the water economy, with emphasis on possible solutions.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "There is an immediate need to increase the quantity of desalinated water. The quickest way, as presented in the discussion, is to increase the output of existing desalination facilities. Therefore, I am instructing the Tenders Committee to act forthwith so as to increase output at existing facilities by 100-120 million cubic meters per annum.  I am also instructing that the issue of Mekorot  building a desalination facility in Ashdod be resolved. Water Authority Director Shani will present such a solution at a discussion that will be held by the end of the month."