Netanyahu presides over first unity government cabinet meeting

Overshadowed by his afternoon appearance in court, Netanyahu started the day by chairing the first cabinet meeting of his new unity government in a bid to get the country moving out from under the coronavirus crisis.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Overshadowed by his appearance in court Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started the day by focusing on getting his new unity government moving.

Netanyahu presided over the first meeting of his cabinet that started by honoring Jerusalem Day, marking the 53rd anniversary of the reunification of the city in the wake of the 1967 Six Day War.

Among the numerous decisions taken at the meeting was approval of a special 200-million shekel ($27 million) plan for the strengthening and development of Jerusalem.

“The challenge of restoration after the corona crisis is a great challenge. The city of Jerusalem was especially hit because tourism is a key component of the city’s economy. Over 80 percent of tourists who come to Israel visit Jerusalem. We will construct an in-depth and thorough plan to strengthen and improve our capital Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said.

“I have to say that this development and the status of Jerusalem got an impetus from the historic decision of our friend the President of the United States, Donald Trump,” Netanyahu added, noting that Trump “decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel, thereby correcting a historic injustice and also decided to move the embassy here to Jerusalem, our capital.”

The cabinet approved the composition of a Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs and decided to establish a ministerial committee on the corona crisis and its implications. The pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented unemployed of over 27 percent, and while the country has been coming out of lockdown for the past two weeks, more than one in every four Israelis is now jobless.

“We will immediately put into action plans that will bring jobs, jobs and jobs,” Netanyahu said. “We will help the self-employed and small business owners to restore the economy to growth.”

With coronavirus infections currently under control and no second wave yet emerging, the prime minister said “the immediate mission that we are dealing with is the economic mission.”

Netanyahu took the opportunity to mention that he had sent greetings for the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, adding that he had spoken with the leaders of Sudan and Chad to wish them happy holidays and “the continued strengthening of relations between us. More Muslim countries are on the way.”

Netanyahu finished his comments with the standard reminder that Israel’s “policy is to oppose Iranian aggression in every place and to oppose Iran’s attempts to entrench in Syria.”

“We are active constantly and, of course, we oppose Iran’s attempt to place or develop in Syria weapons to serve its proxies and forces that could endanger Israel.”