" The Security Fence will be adjusted to the borders formulated east and
west. The operational range of the security forces will not be limited, and
will be in accordance with the security reality with which we have to deal."
IMRA: The "operational range" of the security forces today reach Baghdad
when necessary - and beyond. The question is where the IDF will be
deployed/patrol on a standard basis. PM Olmert's choice of this phrase
indicates that he continues to reject the position of Avi Dichter & Gideon
Ezra that the IDF must remain deployed in the West Bank after the retreat.
Since both Dichter and Ezra have been appointed ministers in the new
government, it can be generally assumed that when faced with the dilemma of
choosing between their seats in the government and taking an uncompromising
stand against a policy that they consider dangerous for Israel's security
that they will follow the tradition of almost all Israeli ministers when
facing such challenges in the past....and opt to remain in their "vital
ministerial positions so that they may serve the Jewish State".]
Translation [Provided by the Israel Government Press Office]
Address by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
On Presenting the New Government to the Knesset
May 4, 2006
Mr. President and Mrs. Katsav,
Speaker of the 17th Knesset, MK Dalia Itzik,
Outgoing Members of the Government,
New Members of the Government,
Members of Knesset,
Congratulations to you, Madam Speaker, on your election to this prestigious
role. This is the first time in the history of the State of Israel that a
female member of Knesset is serving as Speaker. You are deserving of this
position. For many years, you have served in senior positions in the
Knesset and the Government. You are very familiar with the halls and
procedures of this institution, the heart of Israeli democracy. Now, you
have been given an amazing opportunity to shape its future proceedings, and
determine, together with the members of Knesset, the patterns of work,
relationships and content which will leave their mark on public life and the
system of government of the State of Israel in the coming years. I wish
you, on my own behalf and on behalf of the members of Knesset, luck in this
important and demanding position.
Members of Knesset,
On April 6, 2006, the President assigned me the task of forming the
Government. At the conclusion of the coalition negotiations, conducted with
wisdom and responsibility by teams from the various parties, agreements were
signed and the new Government's basic guidelines were drafted - they are now
At the beginning of the week, I informed the President that I had succeeded
in forming a government. In recognition of this great privilege and heavy
responsibility, in modesty and humility, I ask today for the Knesset's vote
of confidence in the Government that I am presenting.
In the outgoing Government, it was my privilege to serve as Acting Prime
Minister for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. I stood beside him in times of
uncertainty and fateful decisions, and I admired his courage, equanimity and
powerful leadership. Even when everything around him was stormy and
turbulent, Arik remained in the eye of the storm, quiet and confident, his
hand holding the wheel steady and focused. His successful term as Prime
Minister will be remembered as a founding chapter in the annals of the
Unfortunately, after he led the State of Israel as a loved and admired Prime
Minister, and led us to remarkable achievements in a bold and far-sighted
policy, Ariel Sharon's health failed. From here, on behalf of the
Government of Israel, in the name of the Knesset and the citizens of Israel,
I express my hope and prayer that Ariel Sharon will live to see the
realization of his political vision.
Yesterday, the State of Israel celebrated its 58th Independence Day. How
great is the difference between the situation that the people of Israel were
in on May 14, 1948 and our situation today. At the time of the Declaration
of the Establishment of the State we stood, only three years after the
Holocaust, with our backs to the wall. With meager resources and weaponry,
we stood in a desperate military defensive against an invasion, whose
declared purpose was the eradication of the newly born state. We were but
a step away from extinction. The pages of history of the State of Israel
since then are full of heroism, sacrifice, magnificent creation,
construction, settlement, massive immigration absorption and a free and
enlightened democratic government. The cycle of hostility around us, the
war and terrorism, bereavement and pain, did not cease for one minute and
did not stop the bursting vitality and the progress and prosperity of the
State of Israel. This miracle is unprecedented in the history of nations.
From its birth, the State of Israel advocated two founding bases - the
Jewish base and the democratic base: the supreme value of a "Jewish state",
at the same time with the uncompromising demand that the democratic state of
Israel will provide "complete social and political equality to all its
citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender". These two bases embody
the core values of the renewed Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. If
you take one and disconnect if from the state, it is as if you cut off its
Therefore, those wishing to look directly into our past, see the reality of
our lives and look to the future, must do so with both eyes open - the
Jewish eye and the democratic eye. Only then, with both eyes open, do the
colors of Israeli society come together into one clear, vivid and meaningful
I, like many others, also dreamed and yearned that we would be able to keep
the entire land of Israel, and that the day would never come when we would
have to relinquish parts of our land. Only those who have the land of
Israel burning in their souls know the pain of relinquishing and parting
with the land of our forefathers. I personally continue to advocate the
idea of the entire land of Israel as a heart's desire. I believe with all
my heart in the people of Israel's eternal historic right to the entire land
of Israel. However, dreams and recognition of this right do not constitute
a political program. Even if the Jewish eye cries, and even if our hearts
are broken, we must preserve the essence. We must preserve a stable and
solid Jewish majority in our State.
Therefore, we must focus on the area in which a Jewish majority is secured
and ensured. The disengagement from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria was
an essential first step in this direction, but the main part is still ahead.
The continued dispersed settlement throughout Judea and Samaria creates an
inseparable mixture of populations which will endanger the existence of the
State of Israel as a Jewish state. It is those who believe, as I do, in
Jabotinsky's teachings and in full civil equality between Jews and Arabs,
who must understand that partition of the land for the purpose of
guaranteeing a Jewish majority is the lifeline of Zionism. I know how hard
it is, especially for the settlers and those faithful to Eretz Yisrael, but
I am convinced, with all my heart, that it is necessary and that we must do
it with dialogue, internal reconciliation and broad consensus.
This does not mean that the settlement enterprise was entirely in vain. On
the contrary. The achievements of the settlement movement in its major
centers will forever be an inseparable part of the sovereign State of
Israel, with Jerusalem as our united capital. Let us come together around
this consensus and turn it into a uniting political and moral fact.
The strength of this nation is in its unity. I will not help those wishing
to cause a rift among the sectors of our nation. It is my intention to take
all future steps through continuous dialogue with the wonderful settlers in
Judea and Samaria. We are brothers and we will remain brothers.
From this podium, I again address the elected President of the Palestinian
Authority, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas. The Government of Israel under my leadership
prefers negotiations with a Palestinian Authority committed to the
principles of the Roadmap, which fights terror, dismantles terrorist
organizations, abides by the rules of democracy and upholds, practically and
thoroughly, all agreements which have thus far been signed with the State of
Israel. Negotiation with such an Authority is the most stable and desired
basis for the political process, which can lead to an agreement which will
bring peace. This is what we desire.
The guidelines of this Government propose this. The parliamentary majority
which will back the Government policy is committed to this process. These
conditions cannot be blurred. We will not, under any circumstances,
relinquish these demands as a basis for negotiation.
The Palestinian Authority must make fundamental changes in its patterns of
behavior, its reactions and its commitments to the principles which are the
basis for any future negotiations.
A Palestinian Government led by terrorist factions will not be a partner for
negotiation, and we will not have any practical or day-to-day relations.
The State of Israel is prepared to wait for this necessary change in the
Palestinian Authority. We will closely follow the conduct of the Authority.
We will continue to strike at terror and terrorists. We will not hesitate
to reach terrorists, their dispatchers and operators anywhere - I repeat -
anywhere, but we will give the Authority an opportunity to prove that it is
aware of its responsibilities and willing to change.
That said, we will not wait forever. The State of Israel does not want, nor
can it suspend the fateful decisions regarding its future - until the
Palestinian Authority succeeds in implementing the commitments it undertook
in the past. If we reach the conclusion that the Authority is dawdling and
is not planning to engage in serious, substantial and fair negotiation - we
will act in other ways.
We will also act without an agreement with the Palestinians to create an
understanding which will, first and foremost, be founded on a correct
definition of the desired borders for the State of Israel.
These borders must be defensible, and ensure a solid Jewish majority. The
Security Fence will be adjusted to the borders formulated east and west.
The operational range of the security forces will not be limited, and will
be in accordance with the security reality with which we have to deal.
The State of Israel will invest its resources in areas which will be an
organic part of it. The borders of Israel, which will be defined in the
coming years will be significantly different from the areas controlled by
the State of Israel today.
This is the Government's plan, it is the basis for its existence, it is the
commitment made to the Israeli electorate whose trust we asked for - and
The agreement to which we aspire to shape the Middle East is based on
consensus, broad consensus first and foremost within ourselves, and
thereafter with our friends around the world.
No political process, certainly not one as fundamentally decisive and
comprehensive as the one for which we are preparing, can be realized without
the understanding of many officials in the international community. We have
no intention of acting alone. We will consult, discuss, talk, and I am
certain that we will reach understandings which will create a broad base of
international backing for these steps, first and foremost with our ally and
close friend, the United States led by President George Bush, and also with
our friends in Europe.
Israel strives to improve the understandings and agreements with the
countries of Europe. Today's European leaders better understand the
complexity of the situation in the Middle East. They understand that there
are no simple solutions, certainly given the upswing in fundamentalist
religious fanaticism in various countries in the Middle East, and the
ascendancy of the pro-Iranian Hamas to the Palestinian Authority. We will
deepen dialogue with Europe and strive to include its leaders in the
dialogue process with the United States.
I aspire to deepen the ties with Arab countries. Egypt and Jordan,
countries with which we have peaceful relations, have leaders who are
inspirational. President Mubarak and King Abdullah the Second are welcome,
credible and responsible partners - for those goals which I defined. I will
do all that I can so that our relations with Egypt and the Jordanian Kingdom
will continue to strengthen, and serve as a basis for diplomatic and open
relations with additional Arab countries.
The threat emanating from Iran is casting a heavy pall over the entire
region and is endangering world peace. The pursuit by this rogue and
terror-sponsoring regime of nuclear weapons is currently the most dangerous
global development, and the international community must do its utmost to
stop it. The statements by the President of Iran should not be taken
lightly - he means what he says. The State of Israel, which is targeted for
destruction by the evil leaders of Tehran, is not helpless. However, only a
decisive and uncompromising international stand against Iran's goals can
eliminate this threat to world peace.
Members of Knesset,
The domestic arena in Israel necessitates in-depth transformation. The
State of Israel must place at the top of its agenda the good of the
citizen - the newborn baby, the pupil, the soldier, the student, the working
man and the elderly. The citizens' right to live in dignity, to receive
better service from the State institutions and to enjoy economic well-being
by reaping the fruits of their labor, should always be borne in mind.
Following the Declaration of the Establishment of the State, Menachem Begin
said: "In our nation, justice will be the supreme ruler, the ruler of all
rulers. There will be no tyranny, the public servants will serve society
and not dominate it. There will be no parasitism. There will be no
exploitation. No one in our homes - be it a citizen or a gentile - will be
hungry or homeless or unclothed or deprived of basic education. 'And
remember that thou was a servant in the land of Egypt'. This supreme decree
will determine our approach towards our neighbor. "And thou shalt pursue
justice" - this supreme decree will guide the relations between our people".
This concept will guide us in our attitude towards every citizen, either
Jewish or non-Jewish. The rights of the minority are craving to be
fulfilled, and we will act vigorously to fulfill them.
The gaps within Israeli society are unacceptable. The continued trend of
widening gaps is a sure recipe for loss of social solidarity. The State of
Israel will lose its moral standing if it evades its responsibility towards
the weaker populations - the elderly, the pensioners, the Holocaust
survivors, the disabled, the ailing, the children at risk, battered women
and those targeted for illegal trade - all those needing protection and
assistance, including the children of foreign workers who grow up among us
and love our country, and wish to be part of it. It is not only our duty
towards them. It is first and foremost our duty towards our moral
standards. The Government will act tirelessly to reduce social and economic
gaps. We will formulate a detailed plan to combat social hardship, act to
improve the health system and particularly the health basket components. We
will continue adhering to the correct economic policy, with the aim of
diminishing unemployment and creating a climate which will enable more
members of Israeli society to join the labor market and earn a decent
In recent years, harsh violence has become part of our daily routine -
stabbings in places of recreation, hooliganism on Israel's roads and city
streets, rapes, robbery and murders. Israeli society must defend itself.
We must place the personal safety of the citizens of Israel at the top of
our agenda. The Government will act tirelessly to uproot violence. We will
combat crime and violence - which constitute domestic terrorism - with the
same determination with which we fight terrorism from the outside. The
Government will uphold the rule of law, and act to eradicate corruption from
all areas of our lives, including corruption in government authorities and
public apparatuses, and will protect, with all its might, those involved in
enforcing the law, first and foremost, the courts, and especially the
Supreme Court of the State of Israel.
Members of Knesset,
Road accidents are a national calamity. The Government will immediately
begin implementing the national program to combat road accidents. We will
make certain that the roads are a safe place for the citizens of Israel.
The Government will act to improve the education system, from nursery school
to higher education. The education system must provide knowledge and skills
which are instrumental to functioning in a modern world: analytical skills,
creativity and teaching of the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and
democratic state. We will also act to deepen and bolster Jewish education
in State schools. We cannot speak of a Jewish state without having its
content known to each and every student. In conjunction with formal
education, we will strive to enhance informal education, primarily the
Zionist youth movements which must regain their natural place as pioneers
leading Israeli youth.
Over the last 15 years, the State of Israel has experienced a tremendous
wave of immigration from countries belonging to the former Soviet Union.
This immigration was a great blessing to the State of Israel. The
immigrants from the former Soviet Union are now an essential component of
the total strength of Israeli society. Their contribution is dramatic -
culturally, academically, industrially, in technological innovation,
security, medicine and education. We are proud of the immigrants, and
embrace them to our hearts with love and gratitude. Continued immigration
is an important element of the growth and prosperity of the Israeli economy
and society and the consolidation of our national security. We will act to
strengthen our bond with our Jewish brothers in the Diaspora, particularly
with the younger generation.
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will "be elevated above the chief joy" of
the Government. We will work to transform Jerusalem into the political,
cultural and business center of the State of Israel and the entire Jewish
The Government will act to develop the Negev and the Galilee and consider
them as areas of national priority. The national plan to develop the Negev
and the future plan to develop the Galilee will create a real revolution in
these areas. It is a huge challenge which the Government takes upon itself,
with a sense of mission.
The Government will continue to uphold the principles which guided its
economic policy over the last few years, and will especially preserve fiscal
discipline, maintain deficit growth of no more than 3%, and an overall
spending ceiling yet be determined, which will, in any event, not deviate
from the growth rate of the population of the State of Israel. Responsible
economic management, integrating into the international economy, encouraging
foreign and local investors, and changing social priorities within the
framework of the total national expenditure - are the basis for the economic
policy which will continue in the future.
Members of Knesset,
It is my pleasure to present the Government, which is, however, not final.
I intend to expand it, and include additional partners in the coming days.
I believe I can complete the negotiations, and reach an agreement with
United Torah Judaism and Meretz. I wanted, and still want, the Yisrael
Beitenu Party to join. Thus far, this has not happened.
These are the names of the Government members and their positions:
Ehud Olmert - Prime Minister and Minister of Welfare
Shimon Peres - Vice Prime Minister and Minister for the Development of the
Negev and the Galilee, Responsible for Regional Economic Development
Tzipi Livni - Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Amir Peretz - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense
Eli Yishai - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor
Shaul Mofaz - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transportation and Road
Yaakov Edri - Minister (Liaison between the Government and the Knesset)
Ariel Atias - Minister of Communications
Rafi Eitan - Minister Responsible for Pensioners
Zeev Boim - Minister of Immigrant Absorption
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer - Minister of National Infrastructures
Yaakov Ben-Yizri- Minister of Health
Roni Bar-On - Minister of the Interior
Avi Dichter - Minister of Internal Security
Avraham Hirschson - Minister of Finance
Yitzhak Herzog - Minister of Tourism
Eitan Cabel - Minister (Responsible for the Israel Broadcasting Authority)
Yitzhak Cohen - Minister (Responsible for Religious Councils)
Meshulam Nahari - Minister
Gideon Ezra - Minister of the Environment
Ofir Pines-Paz - Minister of Science and Technology
Haim Ramon - Minister of Justice
Meir Sheetrit - Minister of Construction & Housing (Responsible for the
Israel Lands Authority)
Shalom Simhon - Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
Yuli Tamir - Minister of Education, Culture & Sport
I ask for the Knesset's vote of confidence in me and my Government.
And now, Madam Speaker, allow me a few personal words. It is customary to
say that the responsibility entailed in filling the role of Prime Minister
in a state such as ours is almost extraordinary when compared to a similar
role in any other country in the world. I am aware of the weight of
responsibility that I shoulder, if you place your trust in the Government,
and the immense burden involved.
I will do my utmost to be worthy of this trust. I will mobilize all my
inner strength for it, apply all the values I learned at home from my
parents, Bella and Mordechai Olmert, who taught me and my siblings that
there is nothing more important than the welfare, wholeness and prosperity
of our small, tormented, brave and talented country.
For thousands of years, the life of the Jewish people has been an unending
struggle for its right to exist. Exactly 58 years ago, we realized the
generations-long dream of our people, here in this beautiful land, which is
unlike any other. We established the State of Israel, and earned the
privilege of sovereignty over our lives in our land.
Now, the responsibility to ensure its future has been bestowed on us. I
wish my colleagues in the Government which I head and myself that we will be
deserving of this great privilege granted us, that we will be wise,
responsible and brave enough to know how make it secure, and protect it from
those who wish it harm, that we will know how to maintain proper dimensions
and necessary balances to strengthen the hope which beats in so many hearts,
and to bring joy, peace and security to our country and its citizens.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.