Full Text Israel Political Brief September 7, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Gas Outline Transcript



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Gas Outline

Source: PMO, 9-7-15

Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks about the gas outline:

“This is a great day for the State of Israel. I am committed to bringing the gas to the Israeli economy, the hundreds of billions for the education, social welfare and health of Israel’s citizens, and tens of billions for investments and jobs.

We have improved the outline. It passed the Cabinet and passed the Knesset by an overwhelming majority. There is one more obstacle but when I want to achieve something, I achieve it. There will be gas for Israel. I want it for the citizens of Israel, to lower the cost of living, to channel vast sums to the state coffers for energy security.

This will be achieved. We are moving forward step by step and overcoming one obstacle after another.

They told us at the outset: We have not seen the outline so we opened the outline. They told us to improve it; we improved it. They told us to submit it to the Cabinet; we did so and it was approved. They told us to submit it to the Knesset and we approved it by majority vote. Now we have one obstacle left and we will overcome it because it is the right thing for the citizens of Israel.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 13, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Press Conference on the Natural Gas Outline Transcript



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Press Conference on the Natural Gas Outline

Source: PMO, 8-13-15
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Thursday, 13 August 2015), made the following remarks at the start of a press conference on the natural gas outline, in which National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz also participated:

“First of all, I would like to thank Minister Yuval Steinitz for leading the work, Professor Sheshinski, Amir Levy, Morris Dorfman, Professor Eugene Kandel, Alex Warshavsky and all those who shared in this difficult and important work.

The outline that has been achieved puts the interests of the State of Israel at the center. It puts the citizens of Israel, Israeli industry, the Israeli economy and Israeli society at the center. I thank Minister Steinitz and this team for reaching an agreement that will bring Israel’s citizens hundreds of billions of shekels in the coming years, hundreds of billions of shekels. This money will serve us in health, education and social welfare.

The gas that will flow to Israel will also lower the cost of living because gas is an energy that is significantly cheaper than others; therefore, this will help us lower the cost of living. It costs less to work with gas. Prices will be lower. This is of unparalleled importance. And, of course, this will also help us in developing industry and the periphery and will thereby help to create new jobs, growth, a lower cost of living, employment, energy security, and a cleaner environment – we do not want to pollute the environment. This is cheaper and cleaner energy.

There is every reason to do this. There is every reason to adopt this outline. We will not get into populism; I said so at the outset. We will extract the gas from the seabed and we will bring it to the State of Israel. I am certain that after every possible inquiry, a majority of Israel’s citizens will be convinced that the outline we have reached is a good outline for the State of Israel.

I will submit this outline to the Cabinet on Sunday. I am certain that we will pass it by a large majority, and rightly so, and we will move forward with it for the benefit of the Israeli economy and Israel’s citizens.

Again, I thank my friends here, everyone, but especially you Yuval. You did good and important work for the State of Israel.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 7, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Today’s Cabinet Meeting on Attack in Northern Israel, Budget and Sukkot — Transcript



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Today’s Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 10-7-14 
יום שלישי י”ג תשרי תשע”ה

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, made the following remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting:

“I would like to express my appreciation to the IDF soldiers who foiled an attack in the north today. I would also like to send my best wishes for a quick and complete recovery to our wounded. We have proven that we respond strongly to any attempt to attack us be it in the south, the north or any other sector. We have also witnessed the threats that are gathering round us, threats that the entire world is aware of and some of which it is dealing with. These threats require us to invest considerable sums in security and in the communities close to the confrontation line. For this reason, I have asked that the tax benefits for these communities be extended; I have spoken about this with Finance Minister Yair Lapid and I think that the matter has been resolved.

I would like to wish all of you and all of Israel a Happy Sukkot. This is your opportunity to travel around the country on the highways, interchanges, bridges and rail lines that we are building in our country.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 21, 2014: PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on the economy, rebuilding up the South and Cyber Security



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 9-21-14
יום ראשון כ”ו אלול תשע”ד
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“Today, the Cabinet will approve a NIS 1.3 billion supplement for Sderot and the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. This is the largest investment that the State of Israel has ever made in this area. This is in addition to the NIS 417 million that we transferred during Operation Protective Edge (<. We are developing a new industrial zone in Sderot, transportation infrastructure in the area and are encouraging young people and students to move to the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

We came to this country to build and to be built. We came to this part of our land in order to build and be built in it and nobody will uproot us. We will strengthen our hold and our development of this area just as in other areas. I say ‘as in other areas’ because on Tuesday we will submit for Cabinet approval a supplement regarding an approximately NIS 2 billion in additional funds for the communities and cities of the south . In the framework of this decision, we will build a new hospital in Be’er Sheva, in addition to the hundreds of additional beds for the existing Soroka Medical Center.

We will connect new natural gas infrastructures for the benefit of factories in the south. We will invest in initiatives to connect the Negev in the framework of the Digital Israel program. We will encourage small and mid-size businesses. We will develop tourism and all aspects of life including the important cyber aspect for all residents of the Negev, including Bedouin. This is a deep commitment on our part. I think that it has found expression.

I mentioned the word ‘cyber’. I would like to update the public and the Cabinet that I decided last week to develop a national authority on the cyber issue to arrange and see to defending the entire State of Israel on the cyber issue. That is, defending not only important facilities and security agencies, but how to defend Israeli citizens against these attacks. This is the establishment of a new authority. It is, in effect, the creation of an air force against new threats and not rely on this being carried out by existing agencies. We are in a new world; we are preparing with new forces. This has very major significance for the defense of the State of Israel in the future.

Standard and Poor’s has maintained Israel’s A+ credit rating , but it must be noted that they said that this is based on the assumption that Israel will continue the responsible economic policy that we have led in recent years and not deviate from it. I think that this obligates us to an even greater effort that we have not yet completed in order to maintain security needs alongside the necessary economic responsibility, as well as the other needs of the State of Israel. In the end we are standing here with several clear components and the effort is yet before us.

I would also like to announce that, as of now, according to very interesting statistics, most of which are positive, the State of Israel in 2013 (there is always a one year lag), officially, I can tell Israelis on the eve of Rosh Hashanah , that Israel’s population has passed eight million. No less important, for the first time in the history of the State of Israel, more than six million Jews live here. This number has great significance in light of our people’s history in the previous century as well as in the current one.

While we never lack constant challenges from all sides I think that we proved over the past year that we can overcome them. Our strongest quality is the unity of the people and the heroism of our soldiers in repelling one of these threats and dealing a severe blow to our enemies on the southern border, of course.

On the eve of our holiday, I would like to send our best wishes for a full and rapid recovery to the wounded IDF soldiers and citizens and at the same time send our deepest condolences to the families of the fallen.

I would also like to commend the entire people of Israel for the determination and unity that they showed during Operation Protective Edge. I would like to send them greetings from the ministers and myself that they should now have the vacation that was denied them during the summer. Be with your families and above all, have a happy, quiet and safe year.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 26, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting Including about Iran



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks – Including about Iran – at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 1-26-14
יום ראשון כ”ה שבט תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“The purpose of the visit to Davos was to detail the advantages of the Israeli hi-tech and cyber defense industries to the leading forces in the world, both countries and new non-state forces, such as international organizations that are as strong as countries, even major powers. The good news is that Israel is very much in demand.

The interest in Israel is very great. The desire to operate here is very great. I estimate that in the coming year we will see the results of both this activity and that of our other actions, i.e. the entry of new companies into Israel, especially in the cyber market, and the expansion of their business activities within Israel, which is already happening.

I met there with the largest companies, including Google ,
Yahoo: ,
Cisco, Microsoft and various cyber companies in both individual and group meetings .

It is widely understood that in the information age information must be protected, otherwise there will be chaos, the jungle.  This is becoming a positive component in all new economic developments. The assessment is that Israel, due to our special circumstances could offer various solutions in this area. It is clear that there is a great opportunity and challenge for us here, first of all to ensure a favorable – and not hostile – business climate for these companies, and secondly, to ensure that our education system will be able to deliver the right tools to our boys and girls so that they will be able to continue to develop with the ability to bring results.

I held talks in Davos with representatives from all continents: With US Secretary of State John Kerry, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi , with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott , with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. All of them are important countries with markets and opportunities and important diplomatic significance.

Of course, they would all like to see progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. I made it clear that the desire is there and I think they also understand this.

I must say that the main interest was in regard to Iran’s ‘assault of pleasantness.’  Here, perhaps in contrast to what was depicted in the talks with the leaders, there was greater sharpness and greater clarity regarding the contradictory and mendacious messages that came up in Rouhani’s speech . Rouhani said that Iran was against international involvement in Syria, but Iran is the country that is most involved and aids the Assad regime in perpetrating mass slaughters on a daily basis.

He said that he was against the killing of innocents, but several days previously dozens of people were executed in Iran, most of whom, I can assure you, were innocent. He said that they favored free access to technology even as Iran denies its citizens free access to the Internet. He said that he favored the recognition of all countries in the Middle East and refused to answer the pointed questions that were directed to him about recognizing the State of Israel. The regime there calls for our destruction on an almost daily basis. Finally, the most important and most significant thing, Rouhani said that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge.

If Iran persists in saying this it means that the permanent agreement, which is the goal of any diplomatic process with Iran, cannot succeed. In effect, Iran is insisting on maintaining its ability to attain [enough] fissionable material for a bomb without any time constraints following the breakthrough. This means that many of the things which we have been saying will come true – are indeed coming true. Of course, there was also an attempt there to break through the sanctions regime. US Secretary of State Kerry told me that the US would act in order to maintain the existing sanctions, which is important, but it is important to see the test of its implementation.

In any case, Iranian President Rouhani’s remark that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge, alongside the interview given by the ‘exceedingly moderate’ Foreign Minister Zarif, in which he made it clear that Iran has an ideological agenda that brings it into perpetual conflict with the West and with the US, because it aspires to see a different world, a different world order, and you know what he means, the combination of these two remarks is causing people to understand that the reality vis-à-vis Iran is not rosy. There is a problem here. We know the truth. There is a regime here that, under cover of an assault of smiles, is trying to arm itself with nuclear weapons, to reach the status of a threshold state that could achieve nuclear weapons very quickly, and a country that has not changed its true ideology at all.

There are arguments inside Iran. There is an internal struggle within Iran over domestic reforms, but there is no change, not as of now, neither in the military nuclear program nor in Iran’s aggressive policy throughout the Middle East and in regard to terrorism well beyond the Middle East. Therefore, such a country cannot be allowed to have the ability to produce nuclear weapons. This has been, and remains, our policy. I assure you that whoever we came into contact with there heard matters clearly both from myself and from President Peres.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 23, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the World Economic Forum at Davos

Source: PMO, 1-23-14
יום חמישי כ”ב שבט תשע”ד

Photos by GPO


Introductory Remarks by Espen Barth Eide – Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s a particular honor for me to welcome you back to Davos and to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. The Davos community fondly remembers your visit as Prime Minister back in 1997, as well as your visit here in 2009, then as Chairman of the Likud Party.

You are joining us here in Davos at a time of deep transformations in the Middle East, as well as a time of significant shifts in the global economy. In both areas, Israel is a key stakeholder if we are to realize positive outcomes. Building on the foundations you yourself put in place already as Finance Minister, Israel has been remarkably resilient during the global economic crisis and has clearly shown the value of fiscal and monetary prudence. What is also remarkable is the resilience and ever-growing pace of Israel’s hi-tech sector, an area I know you care particularly much about, which is a key contributor to your country’s unique position in the global economy.

At the same time, your country is dealing with important issues of income disparity and other socio-economic reforms, which makes you also stand out among the OECD countries.

Mr. Prime Minister, you are also joining us a time of significant turbulence and change in the Middle East region, ranging from the humanitarian and geopolitical catastrophe of today’s Syria to the deep uncertainties surrounding North Africa and the border region. All these are events that will significantly shape our shared future. In this dynamic context, the potential for peace between Israelis and Palestinians is seen as a critical pillar of future stability.

I would like to express our support from the World Economic Forum for the leadership that you yourself, as well as your Palestinian counterparts, had provided in restarting the direct negotiations.

So Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for joining us in Davos yet again, and it’s now my pleasure to invite you here to the lectern to develop your special address.

Address by PM Netanyahu:

Thank you very much. I’d like to acknowledge the presence of Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, who’s been one of the architects of Davos, a regular participant, and he will be given a special award tomorrow, which he much deserves. And of course, I’d like to acknowledge the presence of my wife: she’s here too, so… and my delegation. It’s good to see all of you. . Many of you have been to Israel or are already in Israel. I don’t mean as tourists, but as investors, and if you’re not, I hope that by the end of my talk, you will be.
Israel is often called the Start-Up Nation. I call it the Innovation Nation. The future belongs to those who innovate. Those who don’t innovate, whether in companies or in countries, will fall behind. Innovation is the only way to consistently add value to your products and services in an increasingly competitive global economy. And Israel is a global center for innovation, and by that I mean two things. It’s a center not only for science and technology, but for the indispensable ingredient of entrepreneurship. It’s the man or woman who has an idea – sometimes a child almost, young men and women – who have an idea. And that idea takes science and technology and turns it into a workable plan that can actually profit and grow. So Israel is the epicenter of world innovation right now.
But before I tell you about it, I have to briefly digress because you mentioned the fact that I was here in ’97. I digress on something that you cannot innovate on. You must have an economy that follows the rules of economic gravity. They are no different in Israel or in Nepal or in Columbia or anywhere else. And unless you keep to fundamental rules, the platform that you seek to have to have all these thousands of start-up companies take off. They won’t take off – they’ll crash and sink with your economy.
So to have an economy that is run soundly, you have to observe certain principles. The first one is very simple, but I say that to those of you who are in the audience who run states. The most important rule, number one is: don’t spend over time more than you bring in. You can’t afford it. And the second is, of course to maintain a sound macro-economic policy. I say that because we have done it in Israel and we are doing it now. To do that is not easy.
A short time after I was here, in 2003, I became the Finance Minister. The economy was shrinking. Inflation was growing at 7% a year. Our unemployment was at 11%. One of our major banks was in danger of collapse. It would have taken our entire banking system with it, and you know what that does. We’ve already learned what that does. So, when I took over as Finance Minister, I sought to give an explanation to the Israeli public of what it is that we have to do. And what we had to do then was what we have to do and are continuing to do now.
I described my first day in the Israeli army, in the paratroopers. The commander put us all in line and he said, “Now, you’re going to take special race,” and he pointed to me, the first man on the line. He said, “Look to the man on your right and put him on your shoulders”. I did. He was a pretty big guy, about my size. The next guy, he said, was the smallest man in the platoon. He said, “Put the guy to your right on your shoulders”. And he got the biggest guy in the platoon. And the third soldier, who was a big guy, received a small person; and so on. And then the commander blew the whistle and I could barely take a few steps. The little guy who was carrying the biggest guy in the platoon collapsed. And the third guy shot forward like a rocket and took the race.
I said in the international economy – I said then, I say now – in the global economy, all national economies are pairs of a public sector sitting on the shoulders of a private sector, who has to carry the race.
In our case, ten years ago in Israel, the guy at the top, the fat guy, the fat man became too fat and we had to put him on a diet. Hard to do; we had to cut government spending. We had to give a lot of oxygen to the thin man at the bottom, which meant cutting taxes; and we did. And then we had to remove all the barriers to the competition, ditch a fence, a wall, so that the thin man could run forward and compete. What we did then, we must do now; and we are. We just passed a bill in the government to fight cartels and monopolies, and I think that this is most interesting, the most important condition. It’s a prerequisite for innovation, requiring no innovation, but requiring a lot of political will and a lot of clarity. So conceptually, it’s very easy to do. Politically it’s very difficult, but necessary.
And since then, we’ve grown at roughly 4.6% a year with the decade that has followed. We’ve brought down our debt to GDP ratio from over 100% to about 67%, where it is now. We’ve brought down our inflation and we’ve brought down our unemployment. It’s now about 6%. So we have that macro-economic platform, and any of you thinking of coming to Israel, you’re coming to a well-managed country. We have our problems, as does everyone, but we manage it.
Now, innovation. It’s not enough to have some macro-economic policy. You know, nobody ever got rich by balancing their checkbooks. You just avoid bankruptcy. But it doesn’t make you prosperous. What I’ve just described doesn’t make you rich.
But Israel is becoming prosperous because of something else, and that is the ability to add that value through innovation. And the question is: why is it? What is it that we have, aside from good macro-economic policies, aside from market reforms, what is it that makes Israel this nexus of high technology? Because we have, as I said, thousands of start-up companies. And people have tried to crack the code of Israel. You have endless delegations coming to us from many countries and they are trying to figure out: can we do what you do? We don’t mind – we try to share with everyone, as I’m trying to do here. But I want to tell you why I think it would be very useful for you and us to make partnerships. There is something special that we have in Israel. Everybody has their own specialization. Everybody has their own advantages. Here’s our advantage: the concentration of exceptionally gifted hi-tech start-up companies in Israel, I believe is a function of five things.
First, a curse that has been turned into a blessing: our defense needs. We have had to have a very robust defense, so we take the best and the brightest of our young people in the military, and we put them in our various operations and then three years later, they come out. This is a perpetual machine that produces knowledge workers and knowledge entrepreneurs who are very, very gifted. This is reason number one, and I think that this produces a human resource that is unique.
The second is research, we have excellent research institutions and universities. You know some of them of course, the Technion, the Weizmann Institute and our other exceptional universities. They produce an inordinate share of Nobel Prize winners for Israel and I think that tells you a lot of what it is. We also spend 5% of our GDP on R&D. I think it’s the – a bit less than 5%, but it’s still the highest number of any country.
Third, I think there’s a special culture. The Jewish people have always treasured education and knowledge. In ancient times we were effectively the only literate people that I know of, because every father teach his son, not his daughter but his son how to read the Bible. And that brought us through the Middle Ages and into modern time with literary capacity. That was unusual. When the walls of the ghetto broke down with the French Revolution, that discipline burst out into many, many areas: into physics and mathematics, into chemistry and so on. There was a culture there. So, from the Talmud to Einstein, the Jewish people were always asking questions, truth was never finite. It never ended. There was an iterative process from Jewish communities around the world trying to find out what is the right thing, what is the true thing? And that questioning mind, I think, is something that is in our culture and I think adds very much to our capacities. Fourth, size: we’re very small. I mean, really small, like the the size of New Jersey or Wales. And so everything is close by and everyone is close to everyone else. Everybody competes with each other and collaborates with each other. There is an ongoing vibrant cross fertilization. So technology that is used for missiles can be put in a camera in a pill that goes into a digestive system to find out how healthy you are and where you are not healthy. The technology that is used to track data flow is used to track water flows and so on.
And the fifth reason I think is because we have no choice.  I don’t think any people in the world has been given the situation of the Jewish people, and to survive, we had to innovate. We didn’t have abundant natural resources. We were outnumbered; we were facing constant threats. Our neighbors even imposed upon us an economic boycott. Some world powers imposed upon us a weapons boycott. We had to innovate to survive.
The birth of modern Israel, remember, was an innovation. The rebirth of the Hebrew language was an innovation. The rebirth of agriculture in our land, something we hadn’t done for 2,000 years, was an innovation. It changed our capacities in a very, very short time and we became a key player in the world community.
This penchant of these five factors that converged together has created a unique situation where is this innovation nation,  and we produce more conceptual products per-capita than any other country on Earth. I think most of you, possibly all of you, know this. So the question is: what can Israel give you?
I think in a nutshell, we can be your science and technology incubator. And I think for all of you, for any business and for any country, the ability to create, to have R&D centers or R&D investments or product development investments that allow you to seize the future, to be constantly on the cutting edge is a competitive requirement for all of us. I think that low tech is disappearing. Hi-tech seeps into every crack, into every corner, changing the face of our world. I’ve just come from an illuminating luncheon with some of the leading IT executives and companies in the world, and it’s very clear that there is an abundant opportunity here, tremendous opportunity – the internet of things and the internet of everything. Everything is moving very, very rapidly. Everything is becoming digital. And Israel is active in just about every field, just about every field. I can’t say every field, but in just about every field that I heard discussed in Davos and that I hear that you are discussing, Israel is there.
I recently met the head of an international company that has R&D operations around the world. His company presented a problem to all their offices. He said to me that only in Israel was he told that he wasn’t asking the right question.  And I think that he should been doing it in a different way. By the way, I get that every five minutes as Prime Minister, but these are very valuable insights. These are out of the box insights that make the difference; they give you the competitive edge.
So I think that for countries and companies alike, the ability to come and partake in this Israeli incubator in your specific field is something that will enhance your competitive advantage. I have no doubt about that, and many of you, as I said, are doing it, and as I learn from talking to you yesterday and today, you’re thinking of expanding it and competing for those minds and those talents.
But there are two areas that I want to draw your attention to in the vast scheme of things this is changing and it’s changing beyond belief everywhere – in health, in science and technology. We’re digitizing Israel – we’re doing a Digital Israel, running fast fiber throughout the country, and we can see the possibilities are endless, both in healthcare and in delivering classes and delivering quality of life that is unheard of, in closing social gaps between those who have and have not. Everybody must have. Everybody must have the ability to be there and we’re talking about, for example, the Arab youth of Israel or the Orthodox – getting them to this new world I think is important. It closes the gaps and it could happen as well in our region as a whole. But there are two areas that are specifically addressed in Israel that I draw your attention to.
The first is sustainability, sustainable development and Israel leads in questions water, food, renewable energy and many others. I’ll give you an example on water. We need water and there’s not enough water in the world, or it’s not distributed in the right way and sometimes even if it’s there, it’s not clean. Our population has increased tenfold and our rainfall is half of what it was when Israel was founded. But we don’t have a water problem. Why? Because we lead the world in re-using water. We’re the number one recycler of water, a little less than 80%. The next country is 25%. Whose cows produce the most milk? Don’t guess: it’s Israel. It’s a computerized cow. Every “moo” is computerized and we increased the productivity. And this is something that can be available to populations across the world. We do make it available. In food, in dairy products, in water, in energy – when you think about sustainability, think Israel.
And there’s another area that I specifically talked about an hour ago, which I think is important. All the limitless possibilities that you see on the internet are being challenged by one thing and that is the question of cyber security, or if you will, cyber insecurity and the question of the invasion of our privacy. Is the age of privacy over? The major engine of global economic growth is the internet. The internet has to be protected. You would not leave your bank account open or money on the table or your door open, but effectively unless we have that protection, everybody is exposed. There are no rules of the game and we enter chaos.  So Israel leads in the question cyber protection – without which the internet economy cannot move forward.
We believe that the hundreds of companies that have been established in Israel in the last few years – hundreds – in cyber security can be your partners. We know that the major cyber firms are already in Israel and they are discovering how true that is, but I think that every country and every company today has a vested interest to have the protection of privacy and cyber security. These are not always identical. There’s often conflict between the two, but it is something that we in Israel think that we can contribute to. I think that you should also know that we are making, as a government a massive investment in this area. We intend to be in the top three – I think we are in the top three in the question of cyber security and cyber protection. We believe that we should safeguard the individual. We think that individuals around the world, millions and millions of people, billions of people, should know that their accounts are inviolable, that their money is safe, that their privacy is assured. This is the world you want to see and Israel can help make that world a realization.
So I encourage you to come in and join us with this, and I think this will be good not only for you and not only for us, but also for peace. The investment in the growth of the Israeli economy is good for our society and it’s also good for our neighbors, whether they realize it or not. I believe that in the peace negotiations, advancing the economic peace alongside the political peace – one does not replace the other, but it could facilitate the other. I think this is a tremendous contribution to peace. I think it’s a way to also close gaps within Israel and between Israel and its neighbors. That may not be evident yet between us and our neighbors, but I think it will be evident in the future.
So I think this is an investment in peace, an investment in the economic peace assists the development of political peace. It could be of great benefit to all our neighbors, but especially to the Palestinians because we’ve had some beginnings of cooperation, including in the hi-tech field, between Israeli entrepreneurs and Palestinian entrepreneurs. I believe it could also be a force that would move the entire region forward, but of course the region, as you know, has other problems which we will discuss.
Israel has so much to offer the Middle East, to correct a great misperception. Israel is not what’s wrong with the Middle East; Israel is what’s right in the Middle East, and I think our relationship with our neighbors doesn’t have to be a zero sum game; there could be great gain for all.
So my message to you is very simple: the future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is a great seller of innovation. This is an invitation to the innovation nation. Israel is open for business; it’s open for your business. Please come and join us! Thank you.

Israel Musings January 22, 2014: Harper and Netanyahu hold joint cabinet meeting and press conference



Full Text Israel Political Brief December 8, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 12-8-13
יום ראשון ה’ טבת תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“Today we welcome the Secretary General of the OECD, our friend Angel Gurria. Angel Gurria played an important role in our entry to the OECD, which I and previous finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, worked very hard to achieve, as well as governments before ours. Membership in this important organization of the world’s leading economies gives us objective criteria by which to compare the Israeli economy and Israeli society to other countries, and to find ways to improve what needs improving. I must say that in this international comparison, as we will soon hear from the OECD Secretary General, Israel is in a pretty good situation: Growth is among the highest in the developed countries, unemployment is among the lowest in the world and Israel is implementing many good things according to other indices as well, including health in which we are ranked very high.

I am also pleased that this report focuses on high-tech. I just sat with the OECD Secy.-Gen. and I told him what we are doing in the cyber field – to turn Be’er Sheva into a global cyber capital, which will enable many investors and companies from the private sector to come to Israel. I call on them to do this, they are doing it without me, but there is no doubt that this will continue and grow as part of the Israeli engine for participating in the global economy.

Alongside all the good things, we also heard about things that we need to improve, including the gaps within the State of Israel, which are wide in comparison to the world’s economies, especially the non-participation of parts of our population – the ultra-orthodox and the Arabs – which must be integrated into the Israeli labor force, and of course other things that need correcting, including in advancing our education system, in carrying out international tests. I recently spoke about this with the Education Minister, how we might continue the trend of improvement and strengthen it so that Israeli children will be equipped with the tools to compete in tomorrow’s world.

I think that all of this is helped by these reports. They are very interesting and compare us to others. We have greatly improved. In the past decade, we have overtaken most of the countries here. We made greater progress than they did and we must ensure that this trend continues in the coming decade according to all the main indicators. On closing the gaps, I would say that there will be more people who will participate and benefit from growth. This is the main thing that I would say that we need to do, but we must ensure that there will be benefits. The allocation of the benefits is also important, but it is possible only if there are benefits. Creating growth is the critical thing that we are committed to.

I would like to comment on one other thing, which is unusually severe in my opinion. I have heard about the threats of physical attacks by extremist elements in Israeli society against Christians, Christian Arabs who want to enlist in the IDF, who want to be part of the State of Israel. Against these people is an extremist group that is threatening them. We will not tolerate this; I will not tolerate this. We will use all of our tools to stop these thugs and we will allow whoever – Christian, Muslim and Druze – wants to link their fate even more to the State of Israel and wants to serve in the IDF to do so. We will protect them.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 13, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Ceremony for the Appointment of Dr. Karnit Flug as Governor of the Bank of Israel



Address by PM Netanyahu At the Ceremony for the Appointment of Dr. Karnit Flug as Governor of the Bank of Israel

Source: PMO, 11-13-13
יום רביעי י’ כסלו תשע”ד


Photo by GPO

It is on these kinds of occasions that we say: “all’s well that ends well”. We are celebrating the appointment of a woman as Governor of the Bank of Israel. This is new and important, but I believe that more important than the gender issue is your personal achievement and the fact that you have reached this position.

This is an exciting day for you, your family, your mother, your husband and your children. I am sure that you, as well as your family, wish your father Noah could have been here. I knew him and admired him for his historic deeds. He was a man passionately committed to bringing justice where justice was missing, and I know that this principle has guided you in your public life no less, and perhaps even more, than any other.

We built a country here from ruins and created something out of nothing. I know that this is a joyous day for the workers of the Bank of Israel, to have a Governor from the ranks of the Bank. I was impressed with your leadership over the past six months. I would define it as cold and calculated. Not cold at heart, but calculated, adapted to the needs of the economy and primarily to financial stability. Now, we will all be tested on the basis of the outcome, as a former government minister would define it.

The test first of all is to continue the growth, continue our low unemployment rates – exceptionally low in today’s Western world. We belong to the Western economy, we belong to the global economy. This is not a trivial thing, because the State of Israel has great needs. Our needs are equal to those of two great powers, and we would happily settle for the GNP of Germany or Britain, but we do not have it. Nevertheless, we are, in a certain sense, a national miracle – an international miracle, and certainly an economic one. Our per capita GNP continues to rise and will soon exceed that of Europe’s leading countries. It has already exceeded that of large European countries, and I believe we can continue along this path because we are in the age of information. Not in a decade of information, but in a century of information.

We need first and foremost to nurture our own abilities. We have been discussing it continuously. We have to provide opportunities for the enormous creative power that exists within our people, and it is indeed an enormous creative power. The President always says to me: look at what I find when I travel around this country. I see this great creative force that ultimately translates itself into a great output.

I know that we are expected to work together as a team – I and the Minister of Finance and Karnit. We get into a room, and nothing comes out. It is completely quiet outside and often stormy inside. We make a decision and go. And the Bank of Israel is entirely sovereign. This should be clear. This is one of the unique things that we have created. There are some countries which still refuse to acknowledge it, but not us. This joint leadership will be tested on the basis of many things.

I have read about some of the things you have been dealing with, several of which we have been doing together – the committee to increase competitiveness, the committee for socio-economic change, the committee for the examination of the security budget, the committee for the financial viability of the National Insurance Institute, the national strategy committee, and so on and so forth. We are constantly engaged in this, because reality keeps changing and we need to address it and to show results.

I believe that there is one more thing that we need to do, and the President spoke about it. We need to create a sense of justice or at least a sense of decency in the economy. We must not become one of those countries whose citizens believe that their success is not the result of their efforts, talents or education, but rather the product of some system of connections. This tension always exists, and we must reduce it as much as possible.

I was very impressed with a book I recently read by Prof. Luigi Zingales, an economist of Italian origin who is currently residing in the US. He claims that there is a difference between being pro-market and pro-business. He argues that pro-business in the sense of big business means supporting the cartelization or the monopolization of the economy, whereas pro-market means the opposite – encouraging competition. Competition is good provided that there is no combination of factors that work to prevent competition, be it the government, private business or other factors. We should, to the best of our ability, allow real competition, refrain from centralization, ensure fairness and allow for the distribution of financial and other resources to produce the tools for growth and for the distribution of the products of growth. This is not a simple task because Israel is characterized by a great deal of centralization. This is the reason that approximately four or three and a half years ago, I established the centralization committee, and we have been working on it to this day. We will have to continue to pursue this and to guarantee the foundations of fairer and more equitable competition. Not entirely equitable because that does not exist in reality, but there is a middle road here, and Israel is committed to it, apart from all the other things that we will have to do.

I believe, Karnit and Yair, that we are capable of achieving this goal. Knowing you, and I have come to know you better recently, I believe that this mission is within our reach. I believe Israel faces formidable challenges, but also has a bright future. We stand out in the global economy. We cannot disconnect ourselves from it, but we want to excel within it and this is what we are doing and I believe that we will continue to do this. I want to congratulate you on this special day. May we all be blessed with the fruits of our common labor.

Good luck.

Israel Brief July 14, 2013: Thousands rally in Tel Aviv for social justice protests



Thousands rally in Tel Aviv for social justice

Source: JTA, 7-14-13

More than 3,000 Israelis marked the two-year anniversary of the social justice protest movement and protested current government economic policy during a rally in Tel Aviv….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 13, 2013: Israel’s Austerity Budget Draws Citizen Protests



Israel’s Austerity Budget Draws Citizen Protests

Source: New York Times, 5-13-13

The Israeli government was debating the final points of a two-year austerity budget early Tuesday that would cut spending and raise taxes, outraging many Israelis who voted in a new government this year after promises of economic relief….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 13, 2013: Israeli Cabinet approves reduced defense cuts



Israel’s Cabinet approves reduced defense cuts

Source: JTA, 5-13-13

Israel’s Cabinet unanimously approved a proposal to moderate a cut to the defense budget, as part of sweeping austerity measures proposed for the 2013-2014 budget….READ MORE 

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 12, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting Announcing Cabinet Secretary & on Passing the 2013-14 Budget



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 5-12-13
יום שני ד’ סיון תשע”ג

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“First of all, I would like to open with a few words about you Tzvika [Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser]. You are finishing years of dedicated, professional and unconventional work, with out-of-the-box creative thinking that frequently aided me, the government and the state, several of which will become known later. I think that you did so in an exceptional manner and I would like to specially commend the work that you initiated and, to a large extent, led on the national heritage plan.

The heritage plan is designed to join all parts of the people, secular and religious alike, around our ancient and new heritage, ancient from the time of the Bible and afterwards, and modern, from the rise of Zionism, to preserve the actual sites and the intangible, visual, literary and other assets. I think that this is a major revolution in reinforcing the common foundations that define the reason why we are here and, of course, ensure the identity of the coming generations with the Zionist and Jewish enterprise.

I remember that you first brought up the preliminary idea of preserving sites in my first term as prime minister; five sites, including Tel Hai, and then the idea developed. This is thanks to you and I would like to thank you for it, on behalf of the entire government and – I believe – the country.

To fill your position is not simple, but I looked for someone with a background no less impressive and I asked Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Avichai Mandelblit, who was IDF chief advocate general, to do so. I am certain that he brings with him many qualities – legal and others, including knowledge of the security issues, which you also dealt with – for this task, and I will submit his appointment to the Cabinet today in the hope, and with good wishes, that he will continue your success.

Yesterday, we sat until very late on the defense budget and I decided to bring before the Security Cabinet and the full Cabinet a decision that moderates the proposed cut to the defense budget by NIS 1 billion, which will not be at the public’s expense. I would like to make it clear that the IDF – including its commanders, soldiers and weapons – is vital, in both defense and offense, to Israelis’ security; these are two main fronts.

The offensive front is clear. The defensive front is expanding to include the entire home front, the entire State of Israel. And therefore, we need the IDF to continue becoming more efficient, but we also need additional Iron Dome batteries, and I believe that the path I am proposing today strikes a proper balance between the needs of the economy and security needs so as to allow us to achieve both of these goals even though there is always compromise between such needs, and I think that this is the right compromise.

I think that the most important thing for the Cabinet today is to pass the budget. Today, given the State of Israel’s national needs and the global economic crisis, it is important for the State of Israel to show that it is passing a budget. This decision on the defense budget will allow us to pass the budget. We will do this today and by the end of today, the State of Israel will have a budget.

At the same time, we need to continue developing engines of growth. My visit to China, I believe, will aid one of these growth engines – opening the Israeli market, or to be more precise, opening Asia to Israeli initiatives and companies, and this could give us important additional growth.

We will also need to continue the structural reforms inside Israel, starting with port reform, and there will be others. We have started this and we will continue with full vigor. These matters – passing a responsible budget, continuing structural reforms and building growth engines – will, I believe, ensure our economic future in the coming years.

Thank you.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 6-9, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s China Visit Speeches



PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s China Visit

Prime Minister Netanyahu will start his visit in Shanghai where he will hold a series of meetings with Chinese government leaders and business people. He will also visit local industrial plants in order to expand bilateral economic cooperation and significantly increase Israeli exports to China. On Wednesday, 8 May 2013, the Prime Minister is due to arrive in Beijing where he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and other senior officials.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is also due to give a lecture at a school for future leaders and give interviews to the Chinese media, as well as chat with students in order to expose the potential of the Israeli economy….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 5, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu to visit China to enhance ties



Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu to visit China to enhance ties

Source: NDTV, 5-5-13

Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will arrive in China on Monday, in a rare visit Israeli officials hope will increase exports to the Asian economic giant….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 3, 2013: Finance Minister Yair Lapid Agrees to Raise Deficit to 4.65%



Lapid Agrees to Raise Deficit to 4.65%

Source: Arutz Sheva, 5-3-13

Finance Minister Yair Lapid agrees to increase the deficit target to 4.65% for 2013, after originally planning to increase it to 4.9%….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 11, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu said to push back against Yair Lapid austerity measures



Netanyahu said to push back against Lapid austerity measures

Source: The Times of Israel, 4-11-13

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked Finance Minister Yair Lapid to go back to the drawing board after being presented with a package of austerity measures aimed at shrinking the country’s NIS 39 billion deficit Thursday….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 3, 2013: Israel’s finance minister Yuval Steinitz worries about sequestration effects



Israel’s finance chief worries about sequestration effects

Source: JTA, 3-3-13

Israel’s finance minister expressed concern that U.S. financial difficulties would affect Israel’s economy…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 17, 2013: Israel Economy Posts Slowest Growth Since 2009 on Exports



Israel Economy Posts Slowest Growth Since 2009 on Exports

Source: Bloomberg, 2-17-13

Israel’s economy expanded an annualized 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter, the slowest in more than three years, as exports declined and investments fell….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief October 18, 2012: One-third of Israelis are at risk of poverty, report says



One-third of Israelis are at risk of poverty, report says

Source: JTA, 10-18-12

One-third of Israelis are at risk of poverty, a new Israeli government report shows….READ MORE

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