Israel's 34th government.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Several days after its ratification by the Knesset, the ministers of Israel’s 34th government posed for their traditional photograph with the president.
Standing on a red carpet in the main reception hall of the President’s Residence, they listened as President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu read out official statements.
Netanyahu said that just as he had been excited the first time he’d introduced his government to the president, he was no less excited the fourth time.
The new government was established during a period of multiple challenges and opportunities, he said. The first challenge was to guarantee the country’s security against mounting dangers. Radical Islam was trumpeting at Israel’s borders under the command of Iran and other extremist entities, he said, while Iran – with the help of the agreement it has been offered – was making progress toward the acquisition of nuclear arms.
Every enemy of Israel should be aware that Israel has redlines where such threats are concerned and that it has succeeded in thwarting some of the horrific elements that have penetrated the region, the prime minister emphasized, pledging that his government would continue to safeguard the country.
However, the threats in the region also create opportunities, he went on, stating that several neighboring countries saw eye to eye with Israel on the dangers confronting the region, and looked to Israel as a central partner in the effort to eradicate them.
Israel will make every endeavor to transform such partnerships into processes of stability and peace, including reaching a political arrangement with the Palestinians while ensuring the interests of the State of Israel, Netanyahu said.
In addition, he stated, Israel will continue to enhance its deep relationship with the United States and the American people. Even in matters of dispute, the bonds between Israel and the US are stronger than any difference of opinion, he asserted.
He promised that every effort would be made to reduce the cost of living and the price of housing. In matters of trade, he said Israel would pursue new markets in China, India and Japan, and would develop new products and services in fields in which it had an advantage, such as cyber industries.
Ongoing infrastructure for highways, railways and communications will be expedited so as to link the communities of the Negev and the Galilee with the rest of the country in every sphere, added the prime minister, who also spoke of further developing gas and energy resources and cutting down on bureaucracy.
Rivlin, meanwhile, said that most governments received a 100- day grace period, but that the new government faced challenges with which it must deal immediately.
“Previous governments did not face such challenges in the same way or with the same intensity,” he said.
In matters of foreign affairs, he said dealing with international pressure would require the ability to make carefully weighed decisions that would not lead the state to isolation, but would maintain the redlines of Israeli diplomacy.
The core mission on the domestic front, said Rivlin, is the urgency of presenting a comprehensive budget that will address security needs alongside economic and social ones, with an emphasis on housing and profitable employment.
Responding to voices that had spoken against the size of the government and had even questioned its legitimacy, the president said that according to the rules of Israeli democracy, a government ratified by 61 MKs was no less democratic and legitimate than one ratified by 90.
It should be remembered, he added, that in the state’s dramatic political history, several resolutions – including the one relating to the Oslo Accords – had passed by a majority of one.
Rivlin was confident that even a narrow government could be a good government and work in the interests of the public.