Prime Minister Naftali Bennett began the last Cabinet meeting he will chair as Prime Minister Sunday by lauding the achievements of his government during its one year in power, to applause from the Cabinet ministers.
"For the first time in years, the harvest in the communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip has ended quietly and successfully, without incendiary balloons, fires or Hamas rockets. I would remind everyone that two days into our government's term, Hamas lit 26 fires and this was a daily routine for western Negev farmers. For years the State of Israel paid compensation to farmers in advance so that the farmers would harvest early, when their produce was not ripe and, therefore, of lesser quality," said Bennett.
He added, "Instead of preventing Hamas fires, Israeli governments dealt in trying to compensate for the fires as if they were an act of G-d; this one did not. Together, we succeeded, for the first time in 15 years, to provide complete security to the residents of Ashkelon, Sderot and the communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip. We cannot go backward."
According to Bennett, "Soon, unfortunately, the State of Israel will head toward elections, during which certain government actions will not be possible. Therefore, I ask that all ministers, in the days and hours that are left, to clear their desks in order to expedite carrying out what may be done before the dissolution of the Knesset. Our responsibility toward the citizens of Israel continues even in an election period."
"I am pleased that today we will manage to implement a series of projects including the rehabilitation of Tiberias; the Transportation Minister's emergency plan to deal with traffic jams; housing assistance for SLA veterans who were with us in Lebanon and whom we need to look after, which has been stuck for many years; a plan to mobilize Israeli high-tech for climate innovation, led by the Science and Innovation, Environmental Protection and – of course – Finance ministries; and actions to advance a visa exemption for travelers to the US. There is still much to do and in the next day or two you will manage to do as much as you can.
He turned to the ministers and told them: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my minister friends. I have seen you all work in your ministries, with professionalism and dedication, for all citizens of Israel. I never heard of anyone here looking out for their party or sector, but for all citizens of Israel. This was an excellent government, which depended on a complex coalition. There is here a group of people who knew how to put aside ideological differences, rise above and act for the State of Israel."
"See, there are governments that last but which have few achievements; ours was a short-lived government with great achievements, a "together for the people" government that got things done. This was a term that will be remembered well and each one of us will have a share in it. Together, we put hundreds of thousands of unemployed back to work, honorably, to make a living. Together, we restored the shattered deterrence that we inherited vis-à-vis Hamas. Together, we provided the first quiet year in their lives for the children who live in Ashkelon, Sderot and Netivot. They have never had a year like this in their lives – we did it together. Together, led by the Finance Minister, we brought Israel from economic collapse to growth. Together, we lowered the astronomic deficit to zero.Mainly, we proved that it is possible to work vigorously and honestly – together – for the citizens of Israel.
"I would like to thank you, my fellow ministers: My friend, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and good luck in another two days, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Justice Minister Gideon Saar, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and my friend Mansour Abbas. I would also like to thank Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Religious Services Minister Matan Kahane, who did amazing work," Bennett concluded.