Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Zionist leader Theodor Herzl on Sunday, saying Herzl “changed the history of the Jewish people and the world in eight years.”

Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting a day ahead of Independence Day, Netanyahu said Herzl “understood what was going to happen in Europe” and “motivated a scattered, dispersed, powerless nation to regroup in its land.”

Quoting words Herzl had spoken in 1901, Netanyahu said, “Don’t rely on help from strangers, don’t trust even the charitable and don’t wish for stones to grow soft, for the charitable give degrading charity at most, and stones do not soften. A nation that wishes to stand tall must place all its trust in itself only.”

The prime minister announced that a new educational wing would be built at the Herzl Museum in order to teach youths about the founder of Zionism. “We would like to see an expansion of knowledge on this great person, who I think is comparable to Israel’s ancient prophets,” he said. “Without him, we wouldn’t be sitting at this table today.”



Also during his speech, Netanyahu said the government was set to approve subsidized rentals of 650 housing units for olim in Beersheba, Kfar Saba, Lod, Nazareth, Ashkelon and Haifa. He added that efforts would be made to facilitate aliya by single parents and the elderly.

Turning to ecological matters, the prime minister announced a plan to freeze fishing in Lake Kinneret and its tributaries – including the upper Jordan River – for a period of two years. The ban, he said, would protect water quality, restore the ecological balance in the lake and rehabilitate its fish population. “We will support the fishermen financially and help populate the lake with fish from outside sources,” Netanyahu said.

Before concluding his speech, Netanyahu said the cabinet was set to decide whether to extend Stanley Fischer’s tenure as governor of the Bank of Israel, based on a recommendation by the prime minister himself.

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