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 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.”

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.”

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 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

Israel Political Brief September 11, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Orders the Transfer of Money to Palestinian Authority to Ease Economic Crisis



Israel transfers money to PA to ease economic crisis

Source: JTA, 9-11-12

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the transfer of some $63 million to the Palestinian Authority to help ease its economic crisis….READ MORE

PM Netanyahu Orders the Transfer of NIS 250 Million to the Palestinian Authority Due to its Crisis

Source: PMO, 9-11-12

Due to the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis, Prime Minister Netanyahu, ordered the transfer of a NIS 250 million advance to the Palestinian Authority from tax revenues collected by Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who consulted on the issue with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, communicated the directive via his special envoy, Isaac Molho, who coordinated with the Palestinian leadership.

Earlier today, at his meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to the issue: “We are working on several fronts in order to help the Palestinian Authority cope with its economic problems. We have made several changes in the taxation agreements. We are advancing certain transfers. We have also helped with Palestinian workers and with a series of other steps in order to make things easier for them. Of course, there is a global reality and it is also related to the internal management of every economy, but for our part we are making efforts to help the Palestinian Authority survive this crisis. I hope that they will succeed in doing so; this is our in our common interest.”

Jewish News Brief June 1, 2012: Workman’s Circle Poll: American Jewish Voters Still Favor Obama Over Romney



Poll: Jewish Voters Still Favor Obama Over Romney

New poll finds that Obama out-polls Romney by 59 percent to 27 percent among Jewish voters. Economics, not Israel, matters to voters.

Source: Israel National News, 6-1-12

President Barack Obama in Colombia

President Barack Obama in Colombia

Jewish voters still prefer President Barack Obama over Republican nominee Mitt Romney, according to a new poll released on Thursday by the Workmen’s Circle.

The poll was conducted by a team led by Professor Steven M. Cohen.

Among Jews, the Democratic President out-polls the Republican candidate by 59 percent to 27 percent, with 14 percent undecided. If the undecided voters split similarly, Obama would out-poll Romney by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin among Jewish voters.

The issues driving the Jewish vote, according to the poll, are economic justice including regulating financial institutions, support for progressive taxation, and the argument that government should do more to help the needy.

“These are extremely significant polling numbers. They offer a snapshot of the American Jewish community regarding the values and issues that are the highest priorities, though these are not the issues that are front and center in our communal debate,” Madelon Braun, the president of the Workmen’s Circle, said in a statement Thursday….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 22, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Increasing Economic Competitiveness & Earth Day



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

Source: PMO, 4-22-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Today I will submit for Cabinet approval the recommendations of the committee on increasing competitiveness, what is known as the cartelization committee.  We want to increase competitiveness in the economy by reducing cartelization, by reducing or cancelling cartels and monopolies.  When there is more competition, prices go down.

We are doing things that have not been done here for years.  For years limiting cartels and monopolies was talked about, but we are taking action.  In the last one-and-a-half years important work has been coordinated between me, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, my economic advisor, Eugene Kandel, Finance Ministry personnel, Prime Minister’s Office personnel and others.  There are here a series of very important recommendations.  On the one hand, these are daring decisions, but they are also proportionate so as to ensure the continued competitiveness of the economy and in order to lower the cost of living.  We are already seeing the first achievements in this regard.  For example, I saw the Central Bureau of Statistics report that food prices did not rise last year even though the CPI did, contrary to widely-held points-of-view.  But this is not enough.  We want to lower prices and lowering prices is achieved by increasing competitiveness.

Therefore, after the Cabinet decision, I would like to pass the recommendations on to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.  We must move quickly so that we will be able to legislate the changes that will open the economy to competitiveness, increase competitiveness and lower prices.

I would also like to say that even before the High Court of Justice decision on the Tal Law, I made it clear that we would replace the Tal Law with a different law.  This law will be replaced by another law in order for there to be a more equitable, just and fair division of the burden in the State of Israel for all its citizens, Arab and Jew alike.  We will do so, and we will do so responsibly in a manner that does not set public against public.  This is very important for us now and always.

Third, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat briefed me on the actions that she is taking in order to defeat violence on our football pitches.  I fully back her in this regard.  We must defeat violence on football pitches.  We cannot see such kicking and fisticuffs.  We want to see football.  If there is violence – there will not be football.  Therefore, this violence must be uprooted in order to return the game that Israelis, myself included, love very much.

Fourth, to the planet.  This evening we will mark Earth Day with a symbolic action.  It will not solve the problems, but it will create a commitment – not just national, but international – to try and deal with results such as global warming.  When I was a boy, there was a slogan – ‘It’s a pity to waste even single a drop’ – and Israeli children would go and see dripping faucets and would close them.

Just as it is a pity to waste a drop, so it is a pity to waste electricity.  I ask Israelis to join in this welcome initiative, which itself joins Israel to the green revolution, a very positive revolution that also creates new industries.  I would like to ask you, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who has been very active in this area, to take this festive opportunity to say a few words about the Earth.”

Environmental Protection Minister Erdan: “Thank you Prime Minister Netanyahu.  As you mentioned, today, many countries around the world will mark Earth Day, which is a day designed to raise awareness about the environmental crisis, especially that of global warming.  In Israel, the 22 [local] authorities are leading this initiative at 20:00.  I am very proud that your Government is the greenest government that Israel has ever had.  I think that this may be seen in every step and in every ministry, whether in terms of extensive investments in transportation…”

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Green in Israeli – not Middle Eastern – terms.”

Environmental Protection Minister Erdan: “Green, green in terms of environmental protection, whether in terms of welcome investments in public transportation and railways, renewable energy and energy efficiency, cleaning the country of pollution, and in investing in the development of metropolitan parks.  In effect, in every field vis-à-vis government ministries.  Today, this evening, as you mentioned, it is not designed to solve the problem, it is designed to provide something that has been lacking.  And what has been lacking is the awareness of every citizen that the Government is taking the lead – but it is not just this.  Each and every one of us can make the difference in every decision and in every daily step that we take.  If everybody thinks how to save electricity, the world and our country will be better off and cleaner, thank you.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Thank you.  Thank you all.  Thank you.”

Israel Political Brief April 4, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Increase in Fuel / Gas Prices



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Increase in Fuel Prices

Source: PMO, 4-4-12

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

“The Government does not control fuel prices.  Even the major powers do not control fuel prices and therefore, this is a fluctuating global market.  The State of Israel has no real possibility of controlling the direction – upward or downward – of fuel prices.

However, we have witnessed a constant upward movement in the past year as a result of the sanctions on Iran and other factors.  We are trying to moderate the increases in order to make things easier for citizens.  We are capable of doing so partially and cannot do so fully, but we have decided to do so several times in recent months.  But, as usual, this is not a free lunch and, therefore, from a budgetary perspective, we need to cover the gap that results from lowering prices.  In consultation with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, the personnel at his ministry have formulated a proposal to increase efficiency at Government ministries without harming their work.

I know that there is much to be done in boosting efficiency without harming public service.  The current Government has made impressive achievements in its first three years.  The public at large is beginning to appreciate our achievements and everyone understands that they are partly due to the team work among each and every minister seated at this table.  We have worked together very impressively up until now and here as well, on the issue of greater efficiency in personnel, teamwork is necessary so that Israelis may enjoy lower fuel prices in order to travel around the country over the Passover holiday, on pleasant highways, to the parks and reserves.”

Israel Political Brief April 3, 2012: Survey: Jewish voters see economy as top concern — 62% of US Jewish voters want President Obama reelected



Survey: Jewish voters see economy as top concern

Source: JTA, 4-3-12

Most registered Jewish voters see the economy as the most important issue in the 2012 election, according to a new survey.

Some 51 percent of Jewish voters said the economy would be most important to their vote for the next president. Fifteen percent cited the gap between rich and the poor, 10 percent said health care and 7 percent saw the federal deficit as being important to their vote, according to the survey released Tuesday at a National Press Club briefing.

The poll of 1,004 American Jews was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and was funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, which supports liberal Jewish causes. The political questions included the responses from only self-identified registered voters.

The  survey found that 62 percent of Jewish voters wanted President Obama to be reelected, while 30 percent said they would prefer a Republican and the remainder were undecided.

Mitt Romney, at 58 percent, had the greatest support among Jews who would vote Republican. Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul trail with 15 percent, 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Seven percent of Jews who voted for Obama in 2008 said they would prefer a Republican candidate in 2012.

President Obama is believed to have won as much as 78 percent of the Jewish vote in the 2008 elections….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 1, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks / Speech at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting Discusses the Economy



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

Photo by GPO

Source: PMO, 4-1-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting today:

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Today exactly, we will start the Government’s fourth year in office.  This is the most stable Government in the last 20 years and it is a Government that gets things done, a lot of things.

Israelis feel safer thanks to the Government’s vigorous security policy.  They feel safer thanks to the major budgets we are investing in home front protection, with emphasis on the purchase of Iron Dome batteries.  Additionally, there is the security fence along the Sinai border and other actions we are undertaking to increase security.

Israelis also feel that the economy is more stable and secure.  We have fared very well in the face of the global economic crisis.  The economy here is growing despite the global crisis, and unemployment is at its lowest since 1983.

There is nothing more social than an economic policy that creates jobs.  Jobs are the most social thing there is and only someone who goes to the welfare office and has no income and no self-image before his family knows the effect of major unemployment.

Growth has allowed the Government to invest in all areas – highways, railways and interchanges.  We are investing great sums in order to draw the Galilee and the Negev closer to the center of the country.  We are carrying out unprecedented revolutions in education – from pre-school up to the NIS 7 billion we are investing in rehabilitating and advancing higher education.  We are doing all of this in order to invest in the future.  But today, the future is here – here behind me.

Today, five young people from the many hundreds who contacted me on Facebook – Hila, Roi, Sari, Yuval and Nestia – are here behind me.  In a few moments, they will present us with their suggestions for legislation.  This is your first visit to the Government?”

Children: “Yes.”

Prime Minister: “Are you excited?”

Children: “Yes.”

Prime Minister: “The ministers are also excited on their first visit but it passes, it passes.

We want to hear what interests the younger generation.  But before that, I would like to comment on the price of gasoline.  Last night, I decided – along with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz – on a reduction in the price of gasoline that has been set by the global market.  For the fourth time within a year, we lowered taxes on gasoline by the cumulative amount of NIS 0.80.  I must point out that today, taxes on gasoline in Israel are smaller than in many European countries.

I would like to make it clear – we do not control world gasoline prices.  The price of gasoline is rising all over the world, in all countries.  What we can do is to try and ease the burden on citizens in a responsible and measured way, and this is what we are doing.  However, we are constantly maintaining the budgetary framework.  Therefore, later this week, I will submit to the Cabinet a proposal formulated by Finance Minister Steinitz to deal with maintaining the framework.  Whoever says that it is possible to lower taxes and broaden expenditures without making an account lacks economic knowledge and is irresponsible.

We need the taxes in order to purchase additional Iron Dome batteries, in order to complete work on the fence, in order to finance free education for children, in order to pave highways and build railways, in order to help the elderly and the needy.  By the way, in the past two years – for the first time in many years – the poverty index has begun to decline.  The number of poor people in the State of Israel dropped for the first time in years because we have invested in the elderly and have encouraged the ultra-orthodox and Arabs to join the work force.  For the first time, the clock is turning.

I am saying all of this because we must tell it like it is.  I commend Finance Minister Steinitz and the Finance Ministry for their responsible conduct and because this time as well the budget for financing the tax reduction will be taken from a process of enacting greater efficiency in the Government.  This time as well, we will not break the budgetary framework and thus we will maintain the Israeli economy in the face of the global crisis.  And now I would like to hear from the children.

Thank you all.”

דברי ראש הממשלה בפתח ישיבת הממשלה

יום ראשון ט’ ניסן תשע”ב

שלום לכולכם, וגם לכם ידידיי הצעירים, שלום לכם.

היום בדיוק אנחנו מתחילים את השנה הרביעית לכהונתה של הממשלה ולפעולתה של הממשלה. זו הממשלה היציבה ביותר ב-20 השנים האחרונות וזו ממשלה שעושה. הרבה.

אזרחי ישראל מרגישים בטוחים יותר בזכות המדיניות הביטחונית התקיפה של הממשלה. הם מרגישים בטוחים יותר בזכות תקציבי עתק שאנחנו משקיעים למיגון העורף, בדגש על רכישת סוללות ‘כיפת ברזל’. בנוסף לזה, פריסת הגדר, גדר הביטחון בגבול סיני, ופעולות אחרות שאנחנו עושים כדי להגדיל את הביטחון.

אזרחי ישראל מרגישים גם שכלכלת ישראל יציבה יותר, בטוחה יותר, כמעט – ואני לא בטוח שהייתי מוסיף את המילים ‘כמעט’ – מכל כלכלות העולם המפותח. אנחנו פעלנו היטב אל מול המשבר הכלכלי העולמי. הכלכלה כאן צומחת למרות המשבר העולמי והאבטלה נמצאת בשיעור הנמוך ביותר מאז שנת 1983.

אין דבר יותר חברתי ממדיניות כלכלית שמייצרת מקומות עבודה. מקומות עבודה זה הדבר החברתי ביותר שישנו, ורק מי שהולך ללשכת הסעד ואין לו פרנסה ואין לו דימוי עצמי אל מול משפחתו, יודע עד כמה הפגיעה של האבטלה גדולה. אנחנו הורדנו את האבטלה לשפל של כל הזמנים וכך פעלנו גם בנושא החברתי.

הצמיחה מאפשרת לממשלה להשקיע בכל התחומים – בכבישים, ברכבות, במחלפים. אנחנו משקיעים סכומי עתק כדי לקרב את הגליל והנגב למרכז. אנחנו מבצעים מהפכות, מהפכות חסרות תקדים בחינוך – מחינוך חינם לגיל הרך ועד לשבעה מיליארד שקלים שאנחנו משקיעים בשיקום ההשכלה הגבוהה ובהזנקתה קדימה. אנחנו עושים את כל זה כדי להשקיע בעתידנו, אבל היום העתיד כבר כאן – הנה הוא מאחוריי.

היום, חמישה בני נוער מתוך מאות רבות שפנו אליי בפייסבוק – הילה, רועי, שרי, יובל ונסטיה – נמצאים כאן מאחוריי. הם יציגו לנו מיד את הצעות החוק הפרטיות שלכם. זה ביקור ראשון שלכם בממשלה, נכון?

הילדים: כן

ראש הממשלה: אתם מתרגשים?

הילדים: כן

ראש הממשלה: גם השרים התרגשו בביקור הראשון, אבל זה עובר, זה עובר.

אנחנו רוצים לשמוע מה מעניין את הדור הבא. אבל עוד קודם לכן, אני מבקש להתייחס למחירי הדלק. אמש החלטתי יחד עם שר האוצר על ההפחתה במחיר הדלק שנקבע על ידי השוק העולמי. אנחנו הורדנו בפעם הרביעית בתוך שנה אחת את המס על הדלק בסכום מצטבר שהוא גדול מ-80 אגורות. אני חייב לציין שכיום המס על הדלק במדינת ישראל קטן יותר ממה שקיים במדינות רבות באירופה.

אני רוצה להבהיר: אנחנו איננו שולטים במחיר הדלק העולמי . מחיר הדלק עולה בכל העולם, בכל המדינות. מה שאנחנו יכולים לעשות זה לנסות להקל בצורה מדודה ואחראית על המצוקות של האזרחים וכך אנחנו עושים. אבל אנחנו כל הזמן שומרים על מסגרת התקציב. לכן אני אביא לממשלה, בהמשך השבוע את ההצעה שגיבש שר האוצר כדי לטפל בשמירת המסגרת.

מי שאומר שאפשר להוריד מסים וגם להרחיב הוצאות בלי חשבון – נעדר ידע כלכלי ונעדר אחריות לאומית. אנחנו צריכים את המסים כדי לקנות עוד ‘כיפות ברזל’, כדי להשלים את סלילת הגדר, כדי לממן חינוך חינם לילדים, כדי לסלול כבישים ורכבות, כדי לעזור לקשישים ולנזקקים, מה שאגב גרם לכך שבשנתיים האחרונות, אחרי שנים ארוכות, מדד העוני התחיל לרדת. העוני, מספר העניים במדינת ישראל ירד בפעם הראשונה מזה שנים, כי השקענו בקשישים וגם עודדנו יציאה של חרדים וערבים לעבודה. פעם ראשונה השעון הסתובב. אני אומר את כל זה משום שצריך לומר את הדברים כהווייתם.

אני מברך את שר האוצר ומשרדו על הדרך האחראית שבה הם נהגו, וגם הפעם התקציב למימון הפחתת המס יילקח מתהליך ייעול שנעשה במנגנון הממשלתי. גם הפעם לא נפרוץ את המסגרת התקציבית וכך נשמור על הכלכלה של ישראל מפני המשבר העולמי. שנה רביעית מוצלחת לכולנו, ועכשיו אני רוצה לשמוע את הילדים.

תודה רבה לכם

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 10, 2011: Iowa GOP Debate Transcript — Republican Presidential Candidates Rebuke Newt Gingrich on the Palestinians as an “invented people” Comment & Israel Position




Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Newt, Palestinians and the GOP debate: Transcript & commentary

Source: JTA, 12-10-11

Newt Gingrich’s description of the Palestinians as an “invented people” grabbed some attention at Saturday night’s GOP debate. While most of the GOP field is usually eager to side with Israel, on this point Gingrich got some pushback — from Ron Paul (no surprise), but also from Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

22:02:29:00 I wanna change subjects now because– (APPLAUSE) foreign policy was– Speaker Gingrich caused something of a stir overnight in the Middle East with comments he made in interview with the Jewish channel in which he called the Palestinians an invented people. And– I just wondered– G– Congressman Paul, if I can start with you: Do you agree with that characterization, that the Palestinians are an invented people?

22:02:52:00 N– no, I don’t agree with that. And that’s just stirrin’ up trouble. And I– I believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy. I don’t think we should get in the middle of these squabbles. But to go out of our way and say that so-and-so is not a real people? Technically and historically, yes– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, the Palestinians didn’t have a state, but neither did Israel have a state then too.

22:03:13:00 But this is how we get involved in so many messes. And I think it just fails on the side of– practicing a little bit of diplomacy, getting ourselves (LAUGH) into trouble mentioning things that are unnecessary. The people in those regions should be dealing with these problems; we shouldn’t be dealing with these things.

22:03:30:00 But– historically, it– it– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, that i– that is– technically– correct. But to make these decisions in deciding what the settlement’s going to be should be the people that are involved. This idea that we can be the policemen of the world and settle all these disputes, I mean, soon we’ll have to quit because we’re flat out broke. But we– we cannot continue to get into these issues like this and– and– and– and getting ourselves into more trouble.

22:04:00:00 Speaker Gingrich, as I’ve said, this has caused quite a reaction in– in the Middle East. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Sa– Saeb Erekat, said, “Mark my words: These statements of Gingrich will be the ammunition and weapons of the bin Ladens and the extremists for a long, long time.”

22:04:13:00 How would he know the difference? Look from historic, George, simply. Is– is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes. Are we in a situation where every day, rockets are fired into Israel while the United States, the current administration, tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process?

22:04:33:00 Hamas does not admit the– the right of Israel to exist, and says publicly, “Not a single Jew will remain.” The Palestinian Authority ambassador to India said last month, “There is no difference between Fatah and Hamas. We both agree Israel has no right to exist.”

22:04:50:00 Somebody oughta have the courage to tell the truth: These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, “If there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?” We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It’s fundamentally– time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, “Enough lying about the Middle East.”

22:05:09:00 Governor Romney, (APPLAUSE) you just heard the Speaker say he was just telling the truth. Do you take any issue with that characterization of the Palestinians as an invented people?

22:05:22:00 I– I happen to agree with– with most of what the speaker said, except by going down and saying the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part. I– I think– you– you– I think the speaker would probably suggest that as well. I– I don’t think we want to–


22:05:37:00 Maybe not. I– (LAUGHTER) I think we’re very wise to stand with our friends, Israel, and not get out ahead of them. This president decided he was gonna try and negotiate for Israel by sayin’, “Let’s go back to the ’67 borders.” That’s not what Israel wanted to h– hear.

22:05:51:00 They– Israel does not want us to make it more difficult for them to sit down with the Palestinians. Ultimately, the Palestinians and the Israelis are gonna have to agree on how they’re gonna settle the– the differences between them. And the United States–

22:06:02:00 (OVERTALK)

22:06:03:00 –and the– and the United States of America should not jump ahead of Bibi Netanyahu and say something that makes it more difficult for him to– to do his job. My view is this: We stand with the Israeli people. We link arms with them. If we disagree with them, like this president has time and time again, we don’t do it in public like he’s done it, we do it in private.

22:06:21:00 And we let the Israeli leadership describe what they believe the right course is going forward. We don’t negotiate for the Israeli people. We stand with the Israeli people, stand with our friends, and make it very clear: We are gonna t– we’re gonna tell the truth, but we’re not gonna throw incendiary words into a– a place which is– a boiling pot when our friends the Israelis would probably say, “What in the world are you doin’?”

22:06:43:00 So there you have it, Mr. Speaker. He says this is gonna make life more difficult for the Israelis.

22:06:47:00 The Israelis are getting rocketed every day. The– we’re not making life more difficult. The Obama administration’s making life more difficult. The fact is, the Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story. Somebody oughta have the courage to go all the way back to the 1921 League of Nations mandate for a Jewish homeland, point out the context in which Israel came into existence, and “Palestinian” did not become a common term until after 1977. This is a propaganda war in which our side refuses to engage. And we refuse to tell the truth when the other side lies. And you’re not gonna win the long run if you’re afraid to stand firm and stand for the truth.

22:07:25:00 Of course you s– of course you stand firm, and stand for the truth. But you don’t speak for Israel.

22:07:30:00 I didn’t.

22:07:30:00 If– if– if– if Bibi Netanyahu wants to say what you said, let him say it. But our ally, b– the– the people of Israel, should be able to take their own positions and not have us negotiate for them.

22:07:41:00 I want to turn, if I can, to–

22:07:42:00 But can– can I just say one last thing? Because I didn’t speak for the people of Israel. I spoke as a historian who’s looked at the world stage for a very long time. I’ve known Bibi since 1984. I feel quite confident an amazing number of Israelis found it nice to have an American tell the truth about the war they are in the middle of and the casualties they’re taking and the people who surround them who say, “You do not have the right to exist, and we want to destroy you.”

22:08:04:00 I– I’ve known– I’ve– (APPLAUSE) I’ve also known Bibi Netanyahu for a long time. We worked together at– at Boston Consulting Group. And the last thing Bibi Netanyahu needs to have is not just a person who’s an historian, but somebody who is also running for president of the United States, stand up and say things that create extraordinary tumult in– in his neighborhood.

22:08:29:00 Congresswoman–

22:08:29:00 And I’m president of the United States, I will exercise sobriety, care, stability. And make sure that in a setting like this, anything I say that can affect a place with– with rockets going in, with people dying, I don’t do anything that would harm that– that process.

22:08:47:00 And therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, “Would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do? Let’s work together, because we’re partners.” I’m not a bomb thrower, rhetorically or literally.

22:09:00:00 Under the rules, we need– your response. (APPLAUSE)

22:09:05:00 I think sometimes it is helpful to have a president of the United States with the courage to tell the truth, just as was Ronald Reagan who went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire and who overruled his entire State Department in order to say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Reagan believed the power of truth restated the world and reframed the world. I am a Reaganite, I’m proud to be a Reaganite. I will tell the truth, even if it’s at the risk of causing some confusion sometimes with the timid.

22:09:32:00 I think it’s important (APPLAUSE)–

22:09:37:00 Who’s got the better of this argument, Congresswoman Bachmann? Who’s got the better of this argument?

22:09:41:00 Who has the better of this argument?

22:09:42:00 Yeah. (LAUGHTER)

22:09:46:00 In 1974, I went to Israel for the first time and I worked on a kibbutz for the summer. And I saw a brand new nation that had begun in 1948 and was making its way into the modernization that we know today. They’re a first world nation. I was able to return as a member of Congress multiple times, and I also met with Fayad in Ramallah in the very room that Arafat used as his conference room. When I was in there, I– I had asked Fayad about the issue that we were very concerned about, and that’s how the Palestinians teach their children to hate the Jews and call them pigs and swine and descendants from Hades.

22:10:24:00 Okay, but do you think–

22:10:24:00 And I– and let me finish–

22:10:25:00 (OVERTALK)

22:10:26:00 And I have asked him about this very important issues, because how do you find peace when you continue to teach your children hatred? And asked Fayad about this issue, and he said, “Oh, tha– we don’t do that anymore. Our textbooks aren’t filled with that.”

22:10:38:00 And I said, “Oh really?” I pulled out a manila envelope that I’d brought with me, and I pulled out the pages that I’d photocopied out of current books that were being used that clearly showed that. And he said, “Oh, but these are old textbooks.” And he said– I said, “Really? Well, then why don’t you send me the new textbooks that no longer say that and compare them with the old?” And I checked my mailbox today; he still hasn’t me those textbooks. That’s what needs to change.

22:11:06:00 Senator Santorum, let me put to you George’s question. Who’s got the better of the argument?

22:11:11:00 Well, I– I think you have to speak the truth– but you have to do so with prudence. I mean, it’s– it’s a combination. Th– and, you know, I– I– I sat there and I listened to both of ’em; I thought they both had– made excellent points.

22:11:23:00 But we’re in a real-life situation. This isn’t an academic exercise. We’ve got– we have a– we have an ally, and the policy of this country should be to stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally. And– we– we didn’t have an ally in the Soviet Union. The only allies we had were sitting in gulags, and they desperately needed to hear the truth. And Ronald Reagan provided that truth.

22:11:44:00 So– so do we–

22:11:44:00 Here, we have–

22:11:45:00 (OVERTALK)

22:11:45:00 –with prudence, would that be saying (NOISE) Palestinians are invented or not?

22:11:50:00 If I can finish my s– comment, I’ll get to that, George. (LAUGHTER) That– that we– we have an ally here that we have to work closely with. And I think Mitt’s point was– was the correct one. We need to be working with the Israelis to find out, you know what? Is this a wise thing for us to do, to step forward and to engage this issue? Maybe it is.

22:12:10:00 My guess is, at this point in time, it’s not. Not that we shouldn’t tell the truth, but we should be talking to our allies. It’s their fight. We are to be their ally, we’re to be– supporting them. And I’m– I– I’ve been out here very publicly– that the Israelis have the right to determine what happens in their land. And all of Israel, including the quote– you know, West Bank, is Israeli land. And we need to work with them as to the solution that works best for our ally.

22:12:36:00 Governor Perry, close this–

22:12:37:00 Let me–

22:12:37:00 –please.

22:12:38:00 –just say that I think this is a minor issue– that the media is blowing– way out of proportion. We have a president of the United States who has put the most muddled foreign policy in place that is causing the problems in the Middle East. Whether it goes back to two thousand and– and– nine when we had an opportunity to impact Iran, whether it has been the way that– he stood back in Egypt and did not try to negotiate people who would come in that w– could work with us, and now we have radical Islamists as the head of Egypt, whether it was leading from the rear, if you will, in — in Libya.

22:13:18:00 The idea that this president now, with Iran getting one of our predator drones in their possession, and he had two opportunities– well, he didn’t have two opportunities, he had two choices– actually, he had three. And he chose the worst.

22:13:33:00 And those two opportunities he had was to either retrieve that drone, or to destroy it, and he did the worst of the three and he did absolutely nothing. And the Russians and the Chinese will have our highly technical equipment now. This president is the problem, not something that Newt Gingrich said. (APPLAUSE)

Israel Political Brief October 30, 2011: Social protest rally held in Tel Aviv, other Israel cities



Social protest rally held in Tel Aviv, other cities

Source: JTA, 10-30-11

Some 20,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv for Israel’s first social protest in two months.

Saturday night’s gathering, joined simultaneously by smaller protests in Jerusalem, Haifa and Kiryat Shemona, among others, attracted a fraction of the 450,000 people across Israel that demonstrated at the end of the summer.

A protest in Beersheba was canceled due to rocket fire from Gaza.

The Tel Aviv rally began on Rothschild Boulevard, where the first and largest tent city from last summer’s protests was located, and moved to Rabin Square.

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 3, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Lowering Israel’s Cost of Living



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

Source: PMO, 10-3-11

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

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Monday), 3.10.11:

“First, I would like to wish all ministers and deputy ministers, and all Israelis, a happy and healthy new year.  I believe that this will be a good year, a very good year.  I would like to wish you, Professor Manuel Trajtenberg and the members of your committee, a good year in the wake of the accelerated, serious and detailed work that you did in order to bring good news to Israel’s society.  I know that you invested much of yourself, under complicated conditions, in opening a dialogue with the public, in achieving breakthroughs in so many new fields, as well as old ones that had not been dealt with for many years.  I think that you did very, very important work.

We are going to devote the greater part of this meeting to discussing your committee’s important report.  I believe that there is a change of direction here.  Israelis need to know that we are changing the national order of priorities.  We are making many social corrections for the benefit of Israel’s citizens, but we are doing so responsibly.  The main mission before us is to lower the cost of living in Israel.  This is the root of the distress affecting Israelis and this is what we are going to change and correct.

We are changing the national order of priorities in a wide range of areas including childcare for toddlers, lowering a series of customs duties, enacting tax corrections and cancelling tax distortions, increasing competitiveness for products and services for the benefit of the Israeli economy, increasing negative income tax, housing easements, etc.  We will discuss these today and at future meetings until detailed proposals are submitted.

All of this will be done responsibly, without opening the country’s overdraft.  If we do not act responsibly, we could certainly lead the state of Israel into the situation of many other countries that are on the verge of economic bankruptcy, the collapse of their social welfare systems and high unemployment.  We will act differently.  We will adopt the main points of the report and afterwards we will move forward with detailed recommendations.  Our intention will be to make social corrections while maintaining economic responsibility.  I think that Israel will thereby make a new breakthrough and be a symbol for many other countries vis-à-vis the direction to take.”

דברי ראש הממשלה בפתח ישיבת הממשלה

03/10/2011 – יום שני ה’ תשרי תשע”ב

ראשית, אני רוצה לאחל לכל השרים, סגני השרים, סגניות השרים, אני רוצה לאחל לכולכם, לכל אזרחי ישראל שנה טובה וגמר חתימה טובה. אני מאמין שהולכת להיות שנה טובה, שנה טובה מאוד, ואני רוצה לאחל לך באופן אישי, מנו, לפרופ’ טרכטנברג ולחברי הוועדה, אני רוצה לאחל לכם גם כן שנה טובה אחרי העבודה המאומצת, הרצינית והמעמיקה שעשיתם כדי להביא בשורה לחברה בישראל. אני יודע שאתה השקעת בזה השקעה אישית עצומה, בתנאים לא פשוטים, תוך כדי פתיחת דיאלוג עם הציבור, בפריצת דרך בכל מיני תחומים חדשים או תחומים ישנים שלא טופלו במשך שנים רבות, ואני חושב שעשית עבודה מאוד מאוד חשובה.

אנחנו הולכים לייחד את רוב רובה של הישיבה הזאת לדיון בדוח החשוב של הוועדה בראשותך, ואני מאמין שיש פה שינוי כיוון. אזרחי ישראל צריכים לדעת שהיום אנחנו משנים את סדר העדיפויות הלאומי. אנחנו עושים תיקונים חברתיים רבים שייטיבו עם אזרחי ישראל, אבל אנחנו עושים אותם באחריות. המשימה המרכזית שעומדת בפנינו היא הורדת יוקר המחייה בישראל. זהו שורש המצוקה שפוקדת את אזרחי ישראל וזה הדבר שאותו אנחנו באים לשנות ולתקן.

אנחנו משנים את סדר העדיפויות הלאומיות במגוון רחב של תחומים. החל בסיוע לטיפול בילדים מהגיל הרך, דרך הפחתת שורה ארוכה של מכסים, דרך תיקוני מסים וביטול עיוותי מסים, דרך הגברת התחרות במוצרים ושירותים לרווחה במשק הישראלי, דרך הגדלת מס הכנסה שלילי, דרך הקלות בדיור ועוד תחומים רבים שלא אמרתי. נדון בכך בישיבה הזאת וגם בדיוני המשך, עד להבאת הצעות מחליטים מפורטות לממשלה.

כל זה נעשה באחריות, בלי לפתוח את האוברדראפט של המדינה. אם לא ננהג באחריות, אנחנו בהחלט יכולים להביא את מדינת ישראל למצב של מדינות רבות שבעצם הגיעו לסף פשיטת רגל כלכלית, לקריסת מערכות הרווחה שלהן, וכמובן גם לאבטלה גבוהה. אנחנו ננהג אחרת, אנחנו נאמץ את עיקרי הדוח ואח”כ נלך קדימה להמלצות פרטניות, כשהכוונה שלנו היא לעשות תיקונים חברתיים תוך כדי שמירה על אחריות כלכלית. וגם בזה אני חושב שישראל תפרוץ דרך חדשה ותסמל את הכיוון למדינות רבות אחרות.

תודה רבה לכם, שנה טובה.

Israel Political Brief September 5, 2011: 405,000 Social Protesters Hit Israel’s Streets for March of the Million



405,000 Social Protesters Hit the Streets

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-5-11

Israel’s middle class staged a massive show of strength last night when 405,000 protesters rallied in city streets throughout the country. There were an estimated 292,000 protesters at the largest rally in Tel Aviv, according to figures provided by Trendit to Channel 2 News. The demonstrators marched from Habimah Square at the northern end of Rothschild Boulevard to Kikar Hamedinah, where a major rally was held to protest the high cost of living and demand affordable housing and social justice.

At the same time, there were large rallies in Israel’s other major cities. 50,000 demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem, and 35,000 in Haifa as well as protests in Kiryat Shmona, Carmiel, Nahariya, Afula, Ness Ziona, Arad and other towns. There were no protests in Beersheva and Ashkelon because of security concerns. This was the eighth consecutive Saturday night of major social protests, and the largest so far.

According to figures provided by Trendit, 62% of the demonstrators in Tel Aviv were from the bottom 40% of the population in terms of israel protestsincome, while 18% of the protesters were from the top 10% of income earners.

Protest leader Dafni Leef said, “The struggle has not yet fulfilled its aims but rather has moved up into a new phase. I’m as poor as ever but as happy as I have ever been.”

At the end of the protest she said, “The summer of 2011 is the summer of hope. This hope was borne from the social gaps that have become impossible to bridge. Israeli society which has come here this evening, as well as those who stayed home have reached a red line and has said enough, no more. You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of them all of the time. This summer we woke up and opened our eyes.

Protest leader Stav Sapir said, “This struggle will go on beyond the summer. We will continue to struggle while the government ignores us. The government is playing for time and waiting for the protests to tire, and is expecting that the events in September will cause the protest to fade. But we haven’t yet brought to bear all the pressure on the government that we can. We have creative ways to continue to protest such as these Saturdays.”

Published by Globes, Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com

Israel Brief August 23, 2011: Tel Aviv Police Remove Housing Protesters From Squat



Police Remove Protesters From Tel-Aviv Squat

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-23-11

The police removed the social protesters this morning from the abandoned building on Tel Aviv’s Dov Hoz Street that they took over yesterday. “We shall not be moved,” the squatters declared as they set up what they called a “community center” in the building.

200 protesters entered the building, which was once the boarding school and dormitories for young theater actors. The protestors hung a large signtel aviv housing crisis tent cities “Liberated Building” and chanted protest slogans. In a reminder of Tel Aviv’s People’s House, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, the protesters said that they would set up a People’s House for community housing in the squat.

Protest leader Hadar Shemesh told “IDF Radio” (Galei Zahal), “The police evicted us. There was no violence on our part. There was some shoving and scuffles, but nothing more. We also counted two arrests. The protest is not over, and it continues by every means. We are united and the eviction will not end this.”

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said that the squatters crossed the line and broke the law. “Until now, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality allowed and even assisted the protest in the city in accordance with the spirit of Tel Aviv democracy. I have frequently expressed my public support for this just protest and personally attended the large rally held in the city,” he said yesterday.

“Regrettably, a line was crossed by a minority of hotheads who chose to break the law and take over a public property which is unsafe. These people exploited the public’s credit for this acceptable and legitimate protest that is in line with Tel Aviv’s values of peace, freedom of expression, and obeying the law, and put it on the path of violence and criminality. The squat is a crime, and such actions not only do not help the protest and violates democratic values, but will boomerang and hurt the protest’s power, the broad support it has had until now, and its legitimacy.”

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com

Israel Political Brief August 14, 2011: Tens of thousands protest in Israeli cities



Source: JTA, 8-14-11

Tens of thousands of Israelis marched in social justice protests in Israeli cities such as Haifa and Beersheba, but not Tel Aviv.

Saturday night’s protests were the first time in the last month that major demonstrations were not held in Tel Aviv.

Major demonstrations took place in Haifa with about 30,000 protesters, Beersheba with about 20,000 protesters and Afula with 15,000 protesters. Smaller demonstrations took place in 18 other cities including Eilat, Rosh Pina, Nahariya, Dimona, Modi’in, Petach Tikvah, Ramat Hasharon, Hod Hasharon, Netanya and Beit She’an, according to reports.  About 70,000 demonstrators rallied in the protests.

Last week, some 300,000 protesters took to the streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to call for affordable housing and other demands for social justice.

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