Naftali Bennett
Naftali BennettIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday that ensuring employment for sectors of Israelis who do not enter the workforce is more important than tackling the issue of equal burden in army service, which was one of the hotly debated issues during the recent election campaign.

Speaking at a Manufacturers Association conference in Tel Aviv, Bennett said that in the coming weeks he would be presenting a new program that will see hareidi men and Arab women being integrated into the Israeli workforce.

The comments come two days after Bennett spoke of the need to fight discrimination against Israeli Arabs by integrating them into the workforce.

Speaking at the sixth annual Ramle Conference, Bennett said Arabs face high unemployment, particularly among women, and declared, “I plan to charge that issue head-on.”

At the same conference, Bennett called to fight discrimination against the hareidi-religious as well. He appealed to employers, “Hire hareidi Jews, hire Arab women. It will be good for your company.”

During his speech Thursday, Bennett also said that Israel's industry is "the workhorse of Zionism, which pulls all of Israel behind it."

"This 'horse' involves risks, initiatives and creativity," Bennett said. "You are the ones who produce jobs and revenue for the Israeli economy. But instead of giving you medals, the country – inadvertently – weighs you down with bags of sand. After being overloaded, the horse starts dying and then trots off to another country, and we are the ones who lose out," Bennett said.

Bennett called the industrialists the "true pioneers" of 2013, and said that one of his missions as Minister of Economy and Trade is the reduction bureaucracy and bottlenecks, and production of "available labor," in his words.