“On behalf of all the members of the government, I would like to congratulate, Minister of Justice Amir Ohana, Minister of Education Rafi Peretz and Minister of Transportation Bezalel Smotrich – welcome. You know that I have a traditional blessing for all those who carry public responsibility on my shoulders – my blessings and my condolences.
Tomorrow I will lead an unprecedented summit between the two great powers – the United States and Russia, and Israel, here in Israel. The fact that this summit is taking place here in Israel is further evidence of Israel’s unique status among the nations at this time.
Yesterday I toured with the US National Security Advisor John Bolton in the Jordan Valley. I want to say something about the words ‘we visited’ – it was not flying over, these things have already been done. We literally landed on the ground, touched the Jordan Valley, viewed Sartaba and then went to Qasr al-Yahud, the monastery area at the Jordan River.
I spoke about the supreme importance of being in the Jordan Valley, in order to ensure the strategic depth and the strategic height of the State of Israel.
Some say that our presence in the Jordan Valley prevents peace. I say the opposite. If we are not there, it promises war, terror and instability that will spread in all directions – east, west, south and north. Therefore, being there is a fundamental element in the security and stability of our region, and I was impressed that US National Security Advisor Bolton agreed with me.
Today I will meet with the secretary of the National Security Council of Russia, Nikolai Petrushev, and tomorrow I will lead the tripartite summit. We will, of course, deal with Iran, Syria and other issues that make it difficult to achieve security and stability in our region, and we know that the region needs it very much, especially at this time.
At the meeting today we are passing a series of budget decisions. The most important budgetary decision is first of all NIS 800 million for the continuation of an important security project that we must not stop.
In addition, we are transferring NIS 350 million so that the afternoon school project will not stop. It serves many parents in Israel and allows us to start the new school year.
In addition, we are also transferring tens of millions of shekels for the people whose houses were lost in fires. It is the government’s duty to do so.
When we bring these things to over one billion shekels, we can do one of two things: we can simply allocate it and thereby increase the deficit and say ‘We gave’. The problem with this is that it is a primary irresponsibility, because we have to put an end to this expense, and we put a reservation here. To give a name we need to take from another place. This is what they call laundered Hebrew ‘moved’ – I call it cuts.
Cutbacks are hard. Taking from government offices is a difficult thing. No one wants to do that, nor do I want to do it. I also understand the ministers in whose offices the cuts are being made. It is very difficult for each of us, but that is what is required. We have no choice. We must take care of priorities – security, the homes that were lost fire, the IDF – these are needs that we are currently addressing and prioritizing to other needs.
In order to withstand this, we have to make the difficult decisions, and I want to tell you: this is leadership. This is measured by leadership. In all my years here, and we have dealt with deficits a little larger than what we are dealing with today, the same question always arises: What is the order of priorities?
When you talk about priorities, it’s first of all the willingness to take away and put in there, and deal with these difficulties. This is measured by leadership, and that is also measured by responsibility. I believe this table will find them both in the next hour. ”
Prime Minister Netanyahu added:
“I would like to welcome the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Professor Amir Yaron. We would be happy to hear your position. The steps that the finance minister described at this time on the eve of elections are not easy. I do not underestimate it. There is nothing casually here. It’s hard, but it’s required. The fact that we are gathered here at this time and are ready to take this step is a testament to the government’s budgetary and economic responsibility. We should all be blessed. “