PM Netanyahu: The Middle East is in one of its most sensitive periods in decades, with the escalating upheaval in Syria at its center.
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting, today (Sunday, 19 May 2013):
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
“I will discuss three items today: The Middle East, the ports and China. You will decide in what order of importance they are, but there is no doubt that the Middle East is first. It is in one of its most sensitive periods in decades with the escalating upheaval in Syria at its center.
We are closely monitoring the developments and changes there and we are prepared for any scenario. The Government of Israel is working responsibly and with determination and sagacity, in order to ensure the supreme interest of the State of Israel – the security of Israeli citizens in keeping with the policy that we have set, to – as much as possible – prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah and to [other] terrorist elements. We will work to ensure Israelis’ security interest in the future as well.
Israel’s seaports are an issue that we have been occupied with for over a decade. In 2003, I initiated a multi-stage reform of the seaports. The first thing we did was the reform of the Ports Authority. We established three government companies, in Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat, and we opened Israel Shipyards in Haifa under private management. This was the first thing that we did, Stage I.
Stage II was turning the Eilat port into a privately operated port. This took place one year ago, two years later than planned.
And the third stage, which is going to happen in the coming months, is to issue a tender for an additional, new port in the State of Israel. Again, this will be a privately-operated port. This plan has very major consequences regarding the cost of living in Israel because 90% of our imports and exports, and a considerable portion of our GDP, passes through the ports in one way or another. Almost everything you see before you, products that are here or that we export to world markets pass through the ports. Only a few products use aerial transportation. Therefore, efficiency or the lack thereof at the ports is something that every citizen feels in his pocket.
We are committed to this change. I know that very many – if not all – ministers support the moves that we are going to enact. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz will submit to me the proposal that is being formulated. I will discuss it with Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, and we will convene the entire Government in order to enact this reform, which will greatly affect the cost of living in the State of Israel.
Regarding China, I agreed with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang that we would establish two committees, a Chinese committee and an Israeli ministerial committee, in order to reduce the bureaucracy for Israeli companies competing in China and in order to submit various projects by Israeli experts and Israeli companies throughout China, and most likely outside China, in third countries.
This committee will be established today under my chairmanship. It will be managed by National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel and will also include the senior economic ministers. Economy Minister Bennett will be vice chairman and will work with his Chinese counterpart and the top Chinese planning council.
I attribute significance to the fact that Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said that China’s top planning agency, which is of great importance, will be part of the Chinese committee. This might allow us to create a growth engine here. We are looking for ways to increase the pace of GNP growth and opening the Chinese market is certainly one of the things with the potential to do this. We are ready and will make all the preparations immediately. Naturally, I hope that we will see a similar response on the Chinese side. In any event, this has important significance in ensuring growth which, in the end, alongside greater efficiency, is the most important factor that will allow us to meet our national goals.”
2. National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Kandel continued (from the 13 May 2013 Cabinet meeting) his review of the strategic/socio-economic situation.
Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Dr. Karnit Flug briefed the Cabinet on the Bank’s views regarding the strategic/socio-economic situation.
3. The Cabinet approved the establishment of two committees the goal of which is to formulate an action plan for strengthening economic ties between Israel and China, as well as increase bilateral trade, mutual investments and research and development initiatives.The committees were established in wake of the agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, during the former’s recent visit to China, on establishing bodies in both countries to strengthen bilateral economic ties. The committees will work to advance Israeli initiatives and companies in China’s cities, as well as outside China in third countries, and will assist in reducing bureaucracy for Israeli companies that are operating in China.The first committee is a ministerial committee to be chaired by Prime Minister Netanyahu and composed of Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (vice chairman), Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Health Minister Yael German, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Yair Shamir, Transportation and National Infrastructure Minister Yisrael Katz, Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Yuval Steinitz and Water and Energy Minister Silvan Shalom.The second committee is an inter-ministerial committee to be chaired by National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel and composed of the directors general of the relevant government ministries and other professional elements.
4. Pursuant to Article 12 of Basic Law: President of the State, the Cabinet decided that Minister Amir Peretz will countersign such documents as would require the signature of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni should the latter be unable to do so.
5. Pursuant to Article 38 of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet proposes that the Knesset declare a state of emergency for one year.
6. Pursuant to its 13 May 2013 decision regarding the implementation of economic policy for the 2013-2014 budget years, the Cabinet decided on the composition of the ministerial committee on legislative changes for the implementation of economic policy for the 2013-2014 fiscal years.
7. The Cabinet decided to appoint a ministerial committee on the struggle against violence.