Cabinet Votes to Increase the Size of the Government

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bibThe legislation changing aspects of the government and state services passed by the outgoing administration are rapidly vanishing from the horizon.

In the last meeting of Israel’s 33rd cabinet, on Sunday morning 21 Iyar 5775, the ministers within a matter of minutes voted to back Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to enlarge his cabinet. This includes the addition of ministers, deputy ministers and ministers-without-portfolio. If the bill is not completed by Wednesday, the 34th cabinet will begin with 18 ministers and others will be added at a later date.

Opposition parties are not sitting idly by an accepting this, but plan to challenge the move in the Supreme Court.

The vote was unanimous, giving PM Netanyahu the backing he desires to undo the law that was passed at the behest of the Yesh Atid party. Yesh Atid felt the government must be streamlined and the absurd concept of a minister-without-portfolio must be eliminated. This refers to a person appointed to the cabinet but the person is not assigned any ministry. While having a driver, vehicle, office and staff, a minister-without-portfolio is not responsible for any government ministry. He is simply a voting member of the cabinet without duties.

The prime minister opened the session explaining it is the last meeting of the outgoing government. The new government, Israel’s 34th, is scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday, 24 Iyar.

In his remarks to the media prior to the closed-door session of the cabinet, Mr. Netanyahu said, “Today we are holding the last Cabinet meeting of the 33rd Government and we are preparing for the first meeting of the new government. I always regard the task of leading the country as being entrusted with a valuable asset – the country – and my responsibility as Prime Minister, and ours as a government, is to return to the public a more secure, prosperous and developed country.

“As I summarize the activity of the 33rd government, I can certainly say that despite the difficulties, and there were many, we advanced – during these years – the State of Israel on three main axes. In the over two years of this government’s existence, since its first meeting, the region around us has been roiling and stormy. And despite the many attempts to challenge us on our borders, we rebuffed all of these attempts bar none: From Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, through Iran’s attempts to develop a new front against us on the Golan Heights, to the unceasing efforts to bring advanced weaponry from Syria to Lebanon, and including Hamas’s efforts to perpetrate strategic attacks against us in the south. In Operation Protective Edge, we hit Hamas as hard as it has ever been struck since its founding.

“Above all, we have acted unceasingly against Iran’s attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons. This effort is at its peak. We will not relent. We will continue to maintain Israel’s right to defend itself under any conditions and in any situation.

“In the diplomatic sphere, we made another effort to move forward on an agreement with the Palestinians, but once again when there was a need to make tough decisions; Abu Mazen decided to abandon the negotiations. He appealed unilaterally, and in contravention of all the agreements, to the international arena. He abandoned the negotiations and entered into an alliance with Hamas.

“In the diplomatic arena, we started to develop new markets for the Israeli economy – in both the diplomatic and the economic arenas – vis-à-vis the giant economies of Asia: India, China and Japan. We joined the Latin American Pacific Alliance as an observer.

“We are developing a new industry that is essential to the future of humanity – cybersecurity. This is developing very quickly and dramatically. We are devoting many resources to it, including a special IDF unit and my instructions are to not only develop this ability for the security of the State of Israel, but to integrate it with Beersheva and the Negev, with our academic ability and with industrial development for Israeli and foreign companies. This is happening before our eyes and is changing the face of the Negev and – in effect – the face of the country. It will turn – it is already turning – Beersheva into a global cyber capital.

“We raised the minimum wage again. Unemployment continues to be low. Israel’s credit rating is stable, which is no small feat given the economic upheavals that are continuing to rock the world. Additionally, we have continued the accelerated link between the Negev and the Galil and the center of the country. In the past six years, we laid twice as much railroad track as in the previous six years. We did likewise with highways and interchanges and we are still busy.

“We completely blocked illegal migration across our borders, something that no other country in the western world has succeeded in doing. The fence that we built has completely proven itself. We added to this legislative and enforcement measures, as well as others, and in this context I note the opposite trend that is now taking place in Western Europe. As Europe notes an increase of hundreds of percent in the influx of illegal migrants, thousands of illegal migrants are leaving Israel per annum. This is a very important achievement for assuring Israel’s image and character as a Jewish and democratic state.

“There is no doubt that much work is yet before us and I promise to do everything so that the next government continues to do it and will even add many more important actions in various areas for the security and welfare of Israel’s citizens.

“I would like to thank the members of the outgoing government once again and may we continue to work on behalf of the State of Israel in order to build its security, assure its prosperity and – of course – continue its development.”

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)