Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:
“Last week, the representatives of 120 countries gathered in Tehran. They heard contemptuous, anti-Semitic remarks by the ruler of Iran, and this was in continuation of his statements about the destruction of Israel. Nobody stood up. Nobody left the hall. This is worse given the IAEA report that was published over the weekend. The report confirms what we have been saying for some time – while the international sanctions are indeed making things difficult for the Iranian economy, they are not delaying the progress of the Iranian nuclear project.
The Iranians are using the talks with the major powers to gain time in order to advance their nuclear project. I believe that the truth must be told – the international community is not setting Iran a clear red line and Iran does not see international determination to stop its nuclear project. Until Iran sees a clear red line and such determination, it will not stop the progress of its nuclear project – and Iran must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons.
On the economic front, I would like to say that the world is still in a continuing economic crisis, the worst to strike the global economy in 80 years. These conditions are making it difficult for the citizens of all countries, especially the developed countries, and are also making things difficult for Israelis. We are obliged to tighten our belt in order to maintain the Israeli economy. This is not easy, this entails difficulties for citizens and I know this. But alongside these difficulties, which have been created as a result of the global crisis, we are also doing things. This week, the law on free education from age 3 took effect, which is saving at least NIS 800 per child per month. This is alongside the income tax credit points, the reform in the cellular phone market, and free dental care for children up to age 12. All of these, and other steps, are saving money for many citizens. In my view, it is more important than anything that we maintain Israelis’ jobs; it must be understood that this is the most social thing.
Last week, the Central Bureau of Statistics published the unemployment data for last month. They stand at 6.5% — this is lower than the unemployment rate in the US, Europe and almost every other developed state. We will continue to maintain the economy and we will continue to maintain Israelis’ jobs and will even work to create additional jobs.
Today, the Cabinet will hear a review by Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan on the important actions being taken to improve the environment – I can say the quality of life – and advance the green revolution in Israel.
We will also hear a review by Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Israel Police Inspector-General Yohanan Danino on the many actions being taken to lower the crime rate in Israel. There are optimistic data in this regard and it is important that we hear them. We also give our backing to the continuation of these actions.
Lastly, I would like to congratulate the Israeli athletes who won three bronze medals at the Paralympics over the weekend. These are bronze medals; for us they are all gold and we are very, very proud of our athletes and we salute them. You can watch them live.