Environment Minister Gideon Ezra said Wednesday that his ministry does not have the funding to properly work on environmental issues. "Protecting this world is hard and it costs money, and we do not have any money," Ezra told the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee in the Knesset, while reassuring the participants that the ministry would do all it could to solve the environmental issues facing Israel. A variety of concerns regarding the environmental stability of Israel were presented at the meeting, included the handling of waste, raising awareness about environmental issues, and the debate over the usage of open spaces in parts of the country. The purpose of the meeting, which took place soon after the Reading Electrical Station switched to usage of natural gas, was to award Ezra with the Globus Green Prize, and to provide him with the opportunity to give an overview of his most pressing concerns and priorities for 2006. The meeting was opened by committee chairman MK Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) who highlighted the importance of the issue by stating that it pertained to the future of Israel. "I believe in this because it is important for our children and for our health," said Majadle. Majadle turned the floor over to Ezra, who spoke briefly and then introduced Dr. Miki Haran, the ministry's director-general. Haran presented a slideshow of Israel's environmental issues and outlined eight main issues: taking care of waste on municipal, industrial, and agricultural levels; preventing the pollution caused by factories from entering the sea and other water sources; reducing air pollution caused by industries and vehicles; cleaning-up the biggest centers of pollution in Israel - Haifa Bay and Ramat Hovav; educating about environmental issues; hiring people to protect the environment; considering the environment when planning projects; and protecting open spaces in Israel. After Haran's presentation, attendees responded with comments about the slideshow and the issues addressed. After his speech Ezra said that educating children about the issues is the key to combatting the problem. "One of my biggest missions is to educate children from a very young age to protect the environment," Ezra told The Jerusalem Post, adding that "educating our children to love and support the environment is educating them about non-violence. If you teach them to like and protect the environment, it will reduce the violence of the children."