Herzog urges joint social affairs forum

Exclusive: Tells Blair Welfare Ministry willing to offer services to Palestinian welfare initiatives.

Herzog 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Herzog 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog has called on Quartet envoy Tony Blair to establish a regional forum to encourage cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the areas of welfare and social services, a spokeswoman for Herzog told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. In a letter sent to Blair on Monday, Herzog also told the former British prime minister that his ministry would be willing to offer supportive and professional services to welfare initiatives established by the Palestinians. The goal of such a forum, Herzog highlighted, would be "to determine an integrative and comprehensive social policy for the region, that would take into account, first and foremost, the well-being of individuals, families and communities." He continued, "The key to the provision of social well-being and social security for all is a situation in which peace provides the stability necessary for the implementation of such a policy." Blair's spokeswoman said he was looking over Herzog's proposal, but that it was too early to comment. She did confirm, however, that the two men had met last month and discussed some of the ideas outlined in the letter. Among his suggestions, Herzog outlined a regional body that would discuss a variety of subjects, including social security; economic development as a catalyst to providing employment and as an alternative to dependence on social welfare; development of services within the community for the enhancement of physical and mental health; and informal educational and leisure-time activities within the community, as well as environmental issues, the work of local non-governmental organizations and volunteering. Herzog also outlined details of specific areas of possible cooperation between the two peoples, including in the areas of children at risk, juvenile offenders, correctional services and youth probation, development of early childhood education and treatment of the physically and developmentally disabled people within the community. Earlier this week, Blair unveiled a series of projects aimed at strengthening the Palestinian economy and said that the focus was now on improving the quality of life and creating greater prosperity for ordinary Palestinians.