Following are Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 29.5.05, regarding the implementation of the Dovrat Commission report and the attacks on Education, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat:

“This morning Education, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat will brief the Cabinet on the implementation of the Dovrat Commission report.

I would like to point out that the education reforms specified in the recommendations of the Dovrat Commission report are very important and vital.  The national task force that I appointed along with Minister Livnat sat for over a year and submitted very serious proposals.  This is not anybody’s private initiative.  It is the decision of the Government and all those who sit here around the table – except one – voted in favor of it.  The Government has also budgeted billions of shekels for education in order to implement the reforms.

Minister Livnat is leading the implementation of the Dovrat report on behalf of the entire Government and she needs to receive its support.  Minister Livnat has led the education system to many achievements during her term of office and the unbridled personal attacks on her are an attack on the Government and its decisions.  I expect everyone to support the decision that we made.

To my regret, the teachers’ organizations are not cooperating in implementing the report even though several very serious compromise proposals have been made that would allow the implementation of the reforms to begin this coming [academic] year and which would either reduce or obviate the need to dismiss teachers.

I want to make it clear that the Government’s decision on the education reforms will be implemented.  This reform will happen.  I call on the teachers’ organizations to accept the serious proposals that have been made to them and to open discussions on the immediate implementation of the Dovrat report.

The reforms contain many issues the implementation of which must be discussed and it is possible to do so by agreement and through respectful dialogue.  I am always in favor of dialogue but in the absence of cooperation, the Government will implement the Dovrat report along with the local authorities, according to the plan that has already been approved.

It is the Government which is responsible towards the students and the parents to enact the necessary changes in the education system and this we will do.

Limor, I stand together with you in the important measures that you are leading.”