A day before the government is to be sworn in, incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu published his new coalition’s guiding principles and overarching agenda, promising construction throughout the country including in the West Bank, as well as steps to “restore balance” between the parliament, the government and the judiciary.
Among the various clauses are promises to strengthen Israel’s Jewish identity and heritage while respecting other religious traditions, maintain the religion and state status quo, fight crime in the Arab community, lower prices and improve public transportation.
The document is not legally binding, and doesn’t spell out many of the promises included in the coalition deals inked with the individual parties (which are also not legally binding). However, it is attached to all those coalition deals and regarded as an integral part of them.
Despite criticism from the attorney general and the outgoing coalition that the new government’s intended policies may erode Israeli democracy, there is no explicit call to preserve democratic values and institutions. Netanyahu has said that he will champion democratic values, while his Likud party pursues judicial reform that is intended to upend the checks and balances between the parliament and the judiciary.
Required to be submitted to the Knesset 24 hours before a new government can be sworn in, the guidelines join a freshly signed stack of coalition agreements with the various allied parties. Two months after leading his right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox bloc to success in the November 1 polls, and after passing a flurry of legislation to meet demands by various allies, Netanyahu has finally cleared all apparent barriers to forming his government.
The guidelines serve as the incoming government’s first official communication to the public about its priorities and intentions, setting out a list of goals it strives to achieve and actions it wants to take.
“It is important, because we are hearing what the government is about to do, what its priorities are and what problems it wants to solve, what reforms they want to implement,” said Amir Fuchs, an expert on democratic institutions at the Israel Democracy Institute.
Fuchs added that “it’s also a formality” required by Basic Law: The Government, and “it’s not binding at all,” meaning that the government cannot be legally held to its commitments.
Following is The Times of Israel’s translation of the basic principles of Israel’s 37th government:
The government will act in accordance with the following guidelines:
- The Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel. The government will promote and develop the settlement of all parts of the Land of Israel — in the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan and Judea and Samaria.
- The government will actively work to boost national security and provide personal security to its citizens, while resolutely and determinedly fighting violence and terrorism.
- The government will act to continue the struggle against Iran’s nuclear program.
- The government will work to strengthen the status of Jerusalem.
- The government will work to promote peace with all our neighbors while preserving Israel’s security, historical and national interests.
- The government will aim for social justice by developing the periphery and reducing societal gaps, while uncompromisingly combating poverty through education, employment and increased assistance to the weaker segments of the population.
- The government will act to encourage the use of public transportation and to solve the traffic congestion problems on the roads.
- The government will advance a plan to deal with the soaring cost of living and will work to create economic conditions that will enable sustainable growth.
- The government will view reducing housing prices and increasing the supply of apartments as a national goal, and will act to lower housing prices.
- The government will take steps to guarantee governance and to restore the proper balance between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
- The government will act to increase Jewish immigration from all countries around the world.
- The government will regard education as a top national priority and will work to advance reforms in the education system while ensuring equality between all populations in the various education systems, and strengthening Jewish identity.
- The government will preserve the Jewish character of the state and the heritage of Israel, and will respect the practices and traditions of members of all religions in the country in accordance with the values of the Declaration of Independence.
- The status quo on issues of religion and state will be preserved as it has been for decades in Israel, including with regard to the holy places.
- The government will act to address the problem of personal security in Arab society and to fight crime in Arab society, while encouraging education, providing adequate and appropriate solutions for young people, and investing as necessary in infrastructure in Arab localities.
- The government will act to advance vocational training and education in technological professions in order to adequately meet the current needs of the industry in Israel as a major economic growth factor.
- The government will work to integrate people with disabilities of any kind into societal life, while assisting in their education and employment, will take care of the basic needs of those who are unable to sustain themselves, and will act to improve the status of the elderly, the disabled and families with many children.
- The government will act to protect the environment in Israel, to improve the quality of life of the country’s residents, and to have Israel contribute to the global effort on climate and environmental issues.
- The government will work to strengthen the security forces and to give backing to soldiers and police officers in order to fight and defeat terrorism.
- The government will act to recognize the Golan Heights as a strategic region with broad development potential, and will lead a wave of settlement, development and promotion of initiatives while preserving the Golan’s unique values of nature, humanity and the environment.
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