Peretz, Shalom pledge to improve quality of life
New Environmental Protection Minister Peretz promises to integrate principles of environmental and social justice into office.
Silvan Shalom and Uzi Landau at handover ceremony Photo: Elad Zigman
While the new Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz promised to
integrate the principles of environmental and social justice in his office, new
Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom pledged to improve the quality of life
of Israelis as the country’s natural gas begins to flow.
minister switch ceremonies took place in both the Environmental Protection and
Energy and Water ministries on Tuesday, in each office’s Jerusalem branch – with
Amir Peretz taking the place of Gilad Erdan and Silvan Shalom of Uzi Landau.
Both Peretz and Shalom praised their predecessors, stressing that they hoped to
continue to bring about positive changes in each of their offices.
Landau spokes of his past four years in office, he pointed to the upcoming flow
of natural gas from Tamar as one of the most significant achievements in his
four-year term, a process that has moved forward much quicker than
“This is a savings of billions of shekels and an achievement
for the Israeli economy, which will improve the quality of life of every citizen
of Israel and positively influence the environment,” Landau
Agreeing with Landau, Shalom stressed that he would use this new
influx of natural gas to reduce the cost of living for the general public and
raise the standard of living significantly.
Key to this process will also
be bringing natural gas to the periphery, to allow for further development
there, he said.
Having already served as director-general of the ministry
in the past as well as chairman of the Israel Electric Corporation, Shalom said
he felt already at home in the office and prepared to move forward.
are heading toward a new path of economic independence,” he said.
the natural gas influx is crucial in his eyes, so too is continuing to promote
renewable energy research – to prevent relying “on just one energy source,”
Shalom noted. For example, China and Russia’s heavy reliance on oil have
prevented these countries from placing necessary sanctions against Iran, he
Outside the energy sector – though Shalom emphasized that energy
and water are very much interdependent – the new minister praised Landau for
guiding Israel and making it a leader in desalination technologies.
strong proponent of the Red Sea – Dead Sea conduit project as proposed by the
World Bank, Shalom suggested that he and Landau as tourism minister could
continue to work together on this program.
Encouraging Shalom to bring
the country to a state of energy independence, Energy and Water Ministry
Director-General Shaul Zemach praised Landau for bringing the office to a
position of greater influence and for his vast contributions to advancing
renewable energy, electricity conservation and natural resource
“You entered the energy market during a period in which the
market appeared different, and during your time as energy and water minister the
energy market changed completely,” Zemach said. “It transformed to become small
ship to a type of an aircraft carrier that must be led and guided
At the Environmental Protection Ministry, discussion of
transformation was also in the air.
“This ministry changed me,” said
outgoing Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who is now the
communications and homefront security minister. “I understand much better today
what is best for the state of Israel and its people.”
Erdan noted that he
remembers his previous switch ceremony into the ministry like it was yesterday,
and he attributed the growth of a strong ministry “that is super-social and
influences all the economy of Israel” to the vast cooperation that exists among
“In four years we have significantly reduced the
environmental gaps between us and the West,” Erdan said. “Now hundreds of
thousands of families have been enjoying the fruits of the green revolution, but
the path to a clean and healthy environment is still long.”
achievements in office that Erdan said he is most proud of were launching the
recycling revolution, enacting the packaging law, saving beaches from resort
takeovers, preserving open spaces, establishing a chain of metropolitan parks
across the country, preventing the establishment of a coal power station in
Ashkelon, expanding the ministry’s budget and increasing enforcement of
“Today environmental considerations are an
integral part of the decision-making in the economy and in the government,”
Erdan said. “It is already clear to everyone that Israel cannot lag behind the
international market, which has already learned that a correct economy is a
green economy that ensures that everyone will live and benefit from a good and
Going forward in his new office, Erdan committed
to continuing to help the Environmental Protection Ministry in every way
“Gilad arrived four years ago and he said he feels like it was
yesterday,” Peretz said, following Erdan’s speech. “I arrived yesterday and I
feel like I’m already here four years.”
Praising Erdan for transforming
the ministry into a force that operates on behalf of the public, the new
minister vowed to continue his progress and meld ideals of social and
environmental justice. Peretz stressed that he has never stayed “indifferent or
nonchalant” in the face of injustice and that he intends to continue to stand by
the weak – citing beaches, streams and animals among the country’s weak
“Together we will establish an environmental Iron Dome for
future generations,” said Peretz, who had pushed forward the Iron Dome’s
establishment during his years as defense minister. “All my life I have fought
for social justice, but it is impossible to separate social justice from