Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS/GALI TIBBON/POOL)
Shabbat is important to the government as are the “needs of all citizens of Israel, including the need for safe and continuous transportation,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.
The prime minister also said he regrets Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s decision to resign from the government because of work the Israel Railways performed on Shabbat.
Netanyahu called Litzman, who presented his letter of resignation to the cabinet on Sunday, “an excellent health minister” who has “done a great deal for the health” of the country’s citizens.
The prime minister added that all members of the coalition are interested in the continuation of this government and that he believes “an intelligent” solution will be found to the crisis.
The comments came at a meeting in which Netanyahu also told the ministers that when he was asked recently what he viewed as the country’s needs for the next 100 years, he replied that the first need is “to remember the previous 4,000 years [because] that is the first thing that will ensure the future of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and the State of Israel.”
That comment did not come in the context of Litzman’s decision to quit the government over Shabbat work, but rather when he announced on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the UN Partition Plan – on Wednesday – that the government will allocate NIS 30 million for the preservation and restoration of Independence Hall in Tel Aviv where David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence. That site is also to be used as a museum for the history of the Jewish people in Israel, he said.
Netanyahu added that his government is intent on investing money and resources into preserving the country’s historical sites “because we know that, ultimately, our future is tied to our past and whole nations are being erased, cultures are disappearing from the face of the earth” as a result of what he called a “tsunami of globalism.”
It is, therefore, critical, Netanyahu said, “for us to connect the people of Israel and future generations to both our ancient heritage and our new heritage. And [preserving] heritage sites is one of the main components of this effort.”
During his opening comments, Netanyahu took Haaretz
publisher Amos Schocken to task for a tweet he posted last week to promote an opinion piece in his paper that claimed “a journey of human trafficking, torture and in many cases death” await African migrants deported from Israel
to Rwanda and Uganda.
“Murderers in suits: Eli Yishai, Gideon Sa’ar, Gilad Erdan, Arye Deri, Miri Regev, Ayelet Shaked, Benjamin Netanyahu,” Schocken tweeted, referring to current and former ministers involved in formulating and implementing the country’s policies vis-a-vis the migrants. He also posted a link to the opinion piece written by Lior Birger.
“‘Murderers in suits’ is what he called me and several ministers sitting around this table,” Netanyahu told the cabinet of the Schocken tweet.
“I am trying to think what the response would have been if this type of statement would have been directed at a public official from the other camp,” Netanyahu said.
“You can only imagine. But in this case, there was no response, no demand to investigate or condemn, no articles or special broadcasts. Nothing.”
Netanyahu came under fire last week from members of the opposition who have accused him of being soft on incitement for not coming out strongly enough, in their view, against pictures that emerged of President Reuven Rivlin wearing a keffiyeh
“To all those who preach to us, your hypocrisy and double standard cries out to heaven,” he said. “Do not preach to us.”