PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office, Sunday, April 18, 2010.

(PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE)   “Israels 62nd Independence Day is marked by the countrys achievements in the 150 years since the birth of Theodor (Binyamin Zeev) Herzl.   Herzl began his work at the age of 36 and ended it at 44.  In eight years, he changed Jewish and human history.  He took a dispersed and powerless people and motivated them to gather in return to their country, to re-establish its sovereignty and its creative power.  Herzl foresaw the evil; he understood what was going to happen in Europe.  It is not correct that he wrote about the Holocaust; he wrote repeatedly about the catastrophe that would come.  He believed that the emigration of Jews to their country and the building up of their country, Zionism as he called it, was the order of the day, an order to rescue the Jewish People and an order for them to flourish anew.  He saw no contradiction here – rejecting the bad and building up the good.

I think that it is important that every boy and girl In Israel know about the father of our country.  Once it was understood, it was clear.  Today, in the best case, he is a stamp; there are stamps, we will talk about them soon.  But we would like to deepen knowledge of this great personality, who is comparable in my eyes to the ancient prophets of Israel, without whom there would certainly have been no possibility of national revival.  Without him, we would not be sitting here today.

Therefore, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Herzls birth, we will be briefed today on the activity of the Public Council for the Commemoration of Binyamin Zeev Herzl.  This year, we will establish a new educational wing at the Herzl Museum, which will host hundreds of thousands of young people.  By the way, I intend to join them and visit it along with Education Minister Gideon Saar, whom I would like to thank – along with other ministers – for their activities in this field.

Today, the Government will decide to recommend that President Shimon Peres – on the basis of my and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitzs recommendation – extend the tenure of Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fisher for an additional term.  As Finance Minister, it was I who submitted the recommendation to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, regarding his first term.  There were those who asked Why are we bringing in someone from afar?  A world-class expert but why bring him?  Today, I do not think that anybody asks thus.  I am convinced that our proposal to extend his tenure by another term will be approved unanimously.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that the Cabinet would also, today, approve long-term rent subsidies for 650 residential units for new immigrants, specifically the elderly and single-parent families, as well as a plan to upgrade and improve fishing in the Sea of Galilee and its main tributaries.

Prime Minister Netanyahu viewed the new Israel Post Herzl stamp and said – inter alia – that, “On June 11, 1901, Herzl said, Do not rely on the help of foreigners nor on that of benefactors; do not hope that stones will become soft.  Because benefactors give humiliating donations at most and stones do not soften.  A people that wants to stand upright must put all its trust in itself alone.  I must say that I was not familiar with this quotation but one learns something interesting and important every day.”