(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 16 December 2012):
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Saar made
the following remarks:
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"First, I would like to express my shock and that of the Government of
Israel, and – I am sure – that of all Israelis – over the awful massacre
that took place at the school in Connecticut
I send condolences to President Obama, to the bereaved families and to the
American people. Who like us in Israel is familiar with massacres of
children and innocents? I pray that the families and the American people
find the strength to overcome this terrible tragedy.
Over the weekend, Hamas held festivities and demonstrations in Judea and
Samaria to mark 25 years since it was founded. With the approval of Abu
Mazen, they called for the destruction of Israel and the expulsion of Jews
from Jerusalem and from every point in the State of Israel. We have been
here in Jerusalem
not for 25 years; we have been here in Jerusalem for 3,000 years. We have
been in the Land of Israel for close to 4,000 years. We have a strong and
steadfast national will, the continuous historical consciousness and
strength of soul of a people that has struggled for its homeland and knows
how to maintain its state.
Last night, I lit the eighth Chanukah candle
from the closest possible place to the spot where the miracle of the jar of
occurred, I actually touched the Western Wall. I said it there and I say it
here: The Western Wall
is not occupied territory. The Western Wall is ours; it symbolizes the
foundation of our existence here for thousands of years. We will stand
steadfast in the face of all those who want to expel us from here. The State
of Israel, Jerusalem and the Western Wall will remain ours forever.
Today, I would like to commend Education Minister Saar and the teachers who
. We have here an extraordinary achievement by the education system. We know
that in recent years, we declined on the international tests and it seemed
that the people of the book had simply drifted away from its special
designation and purpose to pursue excellence. We said: We are restoring
Zionism and excellence – science and heritage. We said so and we did it, and
there are very great achievements here thanks to Israel's teachers, thanks
to the parents, thanks to the director generals, and thanks to the
leadership of the Education Minister, the Education Ministry and the
unwavering support of the Government of Israel. We invested resources. We
gave our support and backing so that we might reach today.
I do not want to say that a great miracle happened here because this was not
a miracle, this was a considered policy in which we changed the entire
Now I would like to hear from you Gideon, not just about what has been
achieved but about how we will promise the next government that Israel's
children will continue to climb higher and higher – there isn't much left to
climb for in achievements but we do want to continue."
Education Minister Saar:
"Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. At the start of my remarks, I would, first
of all, like to thank you. Without your personal backing for all of the
reforms, for all of the measures that we implemented and without the change
in the place of education on the national list of priorities, which found
expression in the state budget, we could not have carried out the same
revolution that has been seen in the achievements – and there has been a
dramatic revolution in the achievements of Israeli pupils.
Therefore, this achievement stems from very systematic work and from the
backing that you gave me.
The impressive achievements by the pupils, in all areas, are the results,
first of all, of hard work. But what happened here is not just a revolution
in achievements it is, first of all, a revolution in awareness. It is a
revolution that says – we can. We have the most capable pupils, we can
achieve better results. On the way here this morning, Mr. Prime Minister, I
heard something on the radio that said: If we reached 14th place, it would
have been logical but 7th place is too good. I tell the State of Israel and
the Jewish People, in principle, according to our tradition of the love of
study, of intellect and of perspicaciousness, even 7th place need not be the
maximum achievement. We can reach better achievements and believe that we
can do so in the future, and we can.
During these years, in the media, there were films on the education system,
which our achievements have surpassed, and I very much hope that one of the
Israeli media channels will make a film on what happened here during this
term, to analyze how this happened.
We worked correctly, and we will detail here how this happened, but we
worked hard and I, first of all, would like to thank the pedagogical staff.
This is a great group that gives its soul, that works with a sense of
mission, everyone preaches to it and explains to it how to do education,
this is an excellent group.
I say, Mr. Prime Minister, that if we continue to on this path in the future
as well, which is also one of investment – and we believe that spending on
education is not an expenditure, it is an investment (and I believe that the
next government, which you will head, will continue on the same path), of
policy as well, of setting measurable goals in all areas – including that of
violence in schools and participation in youth groups – we set measurable
goals in all areas, and, by the way, we met them all. If we continue on this
path, we can anticipate that we will lead in education and we will lead the
western countries, as we have already proven that this is possible."
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"I think that there is very great importance in that there was a willingness
to set goals here. In the economy, we were in a similar situation. We
trailed the West and we fell and we enacted far-reaching changes that jumped
the Israeli economy forward, and this also continued during the present
term. I think that as a result of our having the strength to come and say:
We are measuring ourselves, we want to be first in job creation, in growth,
certainly at the top of the list. The same thing happened in education – we
trailed the West and today we are at the top. In mathematics, it was a great
jump, also in science and in reading comprehension; these are very great
achievements. They stem from the willingness to set goals for excellence and
to adhere to them, invest in them and not be concerned about being measured
according to them. I think that this was simply a very great achievement for
the State of Israel and for Israelis."
2. Education Minister Saar and senior Education Ministry officials briefed
ministers on the significant improvement in achievements by Israeli pupils
on the international TIMSS
tests. Please click here
for further details.
3. Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver briefed ministers on the
implementation of the Cabinet's 27 March 2011 decision
regarding housing for elderly immigrants. Please click here
for further details.