Monday, November 28, 2011

Cabinet communique

Marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the cabinet unanimously approved the establishment of a committee to deal with prevent violence by men in the family.

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 27 November 2011:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"I would like to bring before the Cabinet and the public the force of the economic crisis now sweeping the world, with Europe first and foremost. We are witnessing very deep upheavals and several countries are facing challenges of the most difficult kind. I spoke over the weekend with incoming Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and before that with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and with Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, all of whom expressed their friendship toward Israel and their desire to improve and even strengthen mutual ties. But in and above all of these conversations hovered the shadow of the severe economic crisis that is striking Europe and which is affecting the entire world. Thanks to the responsible management of the Israeli economy, today we are not part of this crisis. We must continue this responsible management. This means that we will need to reject with an iron fist populist draft legislation - both from the coalition and from the opposition. We have no privilege or space to put our achievements at risk. While this is true at any stage, it is especially true in the face of such a great upheaval in the regional and global economies, and, potentially, the Israeli economy as well.

Secondly, we face the contrary pressure of our security needs, which come as an accumulated consequence of threats and dramatic geopolitical changes occurring here in the region. I see no need at present to go into details, but it is clear to you that even if we were now enjoying thirty years of regime and regional stability, the changes would certainly raise various questions, and this is - of course - in addition to the missile and other threats to the State of Israel.

Thus, a contrary situation has been created here: The pressure of security needs and the pressure to maintain the Israeli economy during the economic crisis. While we will need to find the appropriate balance between these two needs, there is certainly no place here to run amok with the budget with all sorts of proposals. This will require much responsibility and sagacity. I am certain that we will be both responsible and sagacious in meeting these two needs.

Tuesday will be the 29th of November and will mark 64 years since the historic declaration on the establishment of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel. The State of Israel was established as a Jewish and democratic state. While Israeli democracy is strong, its strength does not absolve it from acting to maintain it. Therefore, I directed that the draft law on requiring judges to appear for hearings before MKs be shelved, and I have announced that I oppose the draft law that will be brought up regarding limiting petitions to the High Court of Justice against the state. I will act thus whenever a law reaches my desk that would be liable to infringe on the independence of the courts in Israel.

I would like to make it clear: Israel's courts are one of the foundation stones of Israeli democracy. This is not a rotten institution as someone said. This is an important and healthy institution that is vital for the continuation of our democratic life here; therefore, we will preserve the courts. This does not contradict the need to correct distortions that have entered into our public institutions over the years - and we will correct those responsibly, sagaciously, seriously and without getting carried away.

At today's Cabinet meeting, we will also mark the International Day for the elimination of Violence Against Women. We are exposed to the same instances of men attacking their partners. But we know that there are many more problems of violence that do not reach the media, including that of discrimination against women in various aspects of our lives. The State of Israel was established on the basis of equality between the sexes. I oppose discrimination of any kind against women. We are a single island in a much larger area, a single island in which the status of women is ensured by law. But this is insufficient. We still have much to do in order to ensure gender equality and I say that the first thing is to provide for strong enforcement by the legal establishment of the laws designed to ensure that same gender equality."

2. In the framework of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, who also chairs the Ministerial Committee on the Advancement of the Status of Women, presented data regarding the number of women who were murdered by their partners in the past year and which indicate a worrying increase in relation to previous years. The phenomenon crosses all socio-economic classes, all ethnic communities and all sectors. Minister Livnat also discussed the exclusion of, and discrimination against, women in the public sphere.

The Cabinet unanimously decided to establish a committee, the goal of which is to deal with prevent violence by men in the family. The goals of the decision are rehabilitative treatment for abusive men and nipping in the bud the phenomenon of violence. The committee will consult with experts and consider legislative amendments on the issue.

3. The Cabinet approved the establishment of a memorial on Mt. Herzl to commemorate the names of the approximately 4,000 members of the Ethiopian community who perished en route to Israel.

Establishing the memorial closes a cycle for 130,000 members of the Ethiopian community whose family members - men, women, children and the elderly - left on the long and arduous journey to Israel and some of whom perished after suffering shortages of food and water, and from diseases. The memorial will commemorate the names of those who perished and serve as a fitting place that enshrines the memory of those who did not realize their dream of coming to the Land of Israel. Building the memorial will cost approximately NIS 2 million (NIS 150,000 of which will be provided by the Jewish Agency).

4. The Cabinet discussed the construction of permanent infrastructures at, and the establishment of an authority to administer, the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai on Mt. Meron.

5. The Cabinet approved draft legislation regarding support payments to reserve soldiers and their families, and requested the Knesset House Committee to expedite discussion of the bill.

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