1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
Indeed, this is our 150th Cabinet meeting, with very many accomplishments and activity behind us. But this is also the first meeting of the broad unity government, with many tasks yet before us. On behalf of all ministers, I welcome Shaul Mofaz as a government minister and welcome the Kadima MKs that have joined the coalition.
In the talks between us, we set four main goals for the broad unity government: Changing the Tal Law, changing the electoral system, passing the budget and advancing the peace process.
This week, an inter-party team will be formed to present us with alternatives to the Tal Law. By the end of July, we will pass a law that will divide the burden on a more equal, more egalitarian and more just basis for all Israelis, Jewish and Arab alike, without setting public against public.
Soon, we will also establish a team to lead the change in the electoral system and we will begin to formulate a responsible – I emphasize responsible – budget. We have done so up until now and we will continue to do so in the future, in the manner that has well maintained the Israeli economy in the face of the unprecedented global economic crisis.
Last night, my special envoy, attorney Isaac Molho, met with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. I hope that we will be able to advance the dialogue between the sides in order to resume the diplomatic talks.
Today, we will submit to the Government a comprehensive plan to improve the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants. I have personally met with their representatives, from the religious leaders to young people and I am deeply impressed. I have met with them several times; the Director-General has met with them dozens of times. I was impressed by two things: One, is that there is a new generation, younger, energetic, active, that takes the initiative, with achievements and aspirations, and especially with the willingness to be integrated into Israeli society. I was also struck by the distress; there is considerable distress.
Now I say this despite the fact that our Government has done more than any other to ease this distress and help Ethiopian immigrants integrate into Israeli society. First of all, we decided to stop the unacceptable practice of schools for Ethiopians only and, in a gradual process, there will not be any more schools in Israel in which most pupils are Ethiopian. We are bringing this phenomenon to an end.
Today, we will approve increasing housing grants to Ethiopian immigrants and their children and we will improve the ability of these immigrants to be absorbed into the labor market.
I think that in all of these steps, we are delivering several messages to the Israeli public. One, there is no place for racism in Israel, this is unacceptable, there is no place for racism and there is no place for the tolerance of racism. And perhaps most importantly, the Ethiopian immigrants, some of whom and some of whose parents, marched through Africa and overcame deadly dangers, to our sorrow, some did not arrive, they all set out in order to reach Zion. They are our flesh and we are bound to them in mutual responsibility. They are part of us, they are fully equal."
2. Pursuant to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposal, the Cabinet added Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz as a member of the Security Cabinet.
3. Pursuant to Article 23 of the 1959 State Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet appointed Yaakov Amsalem as Finance Ministry Director of Wages and Work Agreements in place of Ilan Levine.
4. The Cabinet approved the following Foreign Service appointments:
* Shimon Roded as Ambassador to Thailand and non-resident ambassador to Cambodia;
* Roi Gilad as Consul-General in Chicago;
* Moshe Becher as Ambassador to Guatemala and non-resident Ambassador to Honduras;
* David Cohen as Ambassador to Albania; and
* Yossi Amrani as non-resident Ambassador to Macedonia.
5. The Cabinet discussed the expected shortage of electricity this summer.
6. In continuation of previous decisions, the Cabinet approved a plan to improve the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants into Israeli society.