Monday, May 17, 2010

MFA Newsletter

Cabinet communique

The Cabinet approved a plan to encourage the return of expatriate Israelis and set a goal of bringing approximately 15,000 Israelis back to the country per annum.

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat))

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, 16 May 2010:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"Today, the Government will approve a special plan to encourage the return of Israelis who reside abroad. There are approximately 750,000 Israelis living abroad and our goal is to bring at least 15,000 of them back home per annum. To this end, the aforesaid plan will include - inter alia - tax breaks, education benefits, medical assistance and national insurance benefits. The plan will be operated by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office. I thank everyone who has been involved. This is very important because these people are, first of all, our flesh and blood. Their absorption and economic integration, upon their return, is usually very quick. Naturally, they have the same national background and they know the language and the culture. They also are familiar with other cultures, the creativity and work standards of which we are sometimes interested in adopting here.

A certain turning point is currently taking place. Many of them left Israel due to the absence of possibilities, and now some would like to come back, thanks to the existence of possibilities, since the Israeli economy seems to be faring better than some others, including those of developed countries. Therefore, we welcome them and will now adopt a plan that will - for a limited time - offer the aforesaid benefits. For all those who have relatives abroad (I daresay that is almost all of us), contact your relatives about today's decision and tell them that it is not only right, but worthwhile, to return to the country, and bring them back.

I would also like to discuss two projects that have been stuck for years. They have to do with two populations that are important and dear to the Israeli public, that see themselves as hurt by these decisions, but we made the decisions and we are carrying them out.

First of all, there is the Kishon basin, the gas pipeline that we have begun to lay in order to bring natural gas to the Haifa Bay area. Every year, several people die or are stricken with severe respiratory diseases, and we know that part of this problem will be resolved. Part of the problem may be resolved by laying a gas pipeline, which is also good for the economy and for the development of the north. Therefore, we decided to lay the pipeline, I hope by agreement and understanding with the Druze community; this is our aspiration. But what is most important is the general welfare. We made the decision and we are carrying it out for benefit of everyone.

The second decision has to do with Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. After the Second Lebanon War, it was decided to build a bombproof emergency room adjacent to the hospital. There is an important ultra-orthodox population that sees itself as hurt by this decision but, here as well, after checks, we reached the decision that it must be carried out. The general welfare is also decisive here. I think that this is the guiding principle. We are holding consultations, to the degree that this is possible, and are trying to reach agreement with parts of the public, but the Government's ultimate commitment is to the general welfare. This is how we have acted and this is how we will act."

2. Prime Minister Netanyahu received a basket of fruit from children from the Nahal Sorek Regional Council area, on the occasion of the upcoming Shavuot holiday.

3. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan briefed the Cabinet on their visit to the Expo 2000 in Shanghai, including their meetings with leading Chinese political and economic officials.

Finance Ministry Director-General Chaim Shani briefed ministers on the possibilities of Israeli-Chinese economic cooperation.

Prime Minister Netanyahu noted Israel's intention to open China's markets to Israeli companies and defined Israel's goals in this regard.

The Cabinet discussed the aforesaid briefings.

4. The Cabinet approved a plan to encourage the return of expatriate Israelis and set a goal of bringing approximately 15,000 Israelis back to the country per annum.

5. Justice Ministry Director-General Guy Rothkopf and Justice Ministry Commissioner of Patents Noam Meir briefed the Cabinet on current plans for the Patent Office.

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