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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting ( 10/10/2010 )

OCTOBER 10: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on October 10, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Getty Images)

 

 

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October 10, 2010 (KATAKAMI / PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE) — Following are excerpts from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

“Today, the Cabinet will discuss an amendment to the Citizenship Law, to the effect that anyone seeking to become a naturalized Israeli citizen will declare the he or she will be a loyal citizen of the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

In 1896, Theodor (Binyamin Zeev) Herzl wrote: ‘The Jews who are seeking a state will have a state.  Finally, we will live as free people on our own land.’

Fifty-one years later, on the eve of independence, David Ben-Gurion wrote: ‘The state that will be established will be Jewish in its purpose, designation and objective; not a state of those Jews who reside in the country but a state for the Jews, for the Jewish People.”

Our Declaration of Independence says: ‘We hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, to be known as the state of Israel.’

In 1992, the Knesset – in Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty – determined: ‘The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.’

This is the essence of the Zionist vision, of the Declaration of Independence and of the structure of administration in Israel.

The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish People and is a democratic state in which all its citizens – Jewish and non-Jewish – enjoy fully equal rights.

To my regret, today, there are those who are trying to blur not only the unique connection between the Jewish People and its homeland, but also the connection between the Jewish People and its state.  Democracy is the soul of Israel and we cannot do without it.  No one can preach democracy or enlightenment to us.  Zionism established an exemplary national state, a state that balances between the national needs of our people and the individual rights or every citizen in the country.

There is no other democracy in the Middle East.

There is no other Jewish state in the world.

The combination of these two lofty values expresses the foundation of our national life and anyone who would like to join us needs to recognize this.

Today marks the beginning of the academic year at 66 institutions of higher learning throughout Israel.  The new academic year is marked by two main issues that we have led, along with Education Minister Gideon Saar: Fostering excellence and encouraging the periphery.  This is the first time that the higher education system is opening the academic year with a multi-year plan that has been budgeted in advance for six years.  This plan encourages scientific excellence according to international standards.

In the coming year, the first four centers of excellence will be established alongside the universities.  These are the first four out of a planned 30 centers that will be established over the next six years, at an overall investment of NIS 450 million.  Each center will operate a unique program to bring back outstanding minds from abroad.  Our goal is to return to Israel Israeli scientists and researchers from the world’s leading universities.

For the periphery, several weeks ago the Cabinet approved tuition payments for discharged soldiers, for their first year of study.  At the same time, this year we are increasing the number of students at colleges in the north and south of the country, and in Jerusalem.  We are also encouraging Israel’s ultra-orthodox and Arab citizens’ access to higher education by allocating student quotas to these sectors and financing special programs.

I would like to commend the 293,000 students.  May they have a successful, excellent and meaningful academic year.”

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