The agreement between Argentina and Iran is received in Israel with astonishment and provoked deep disappointment. The Argentinian ambassador in Israel will be summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem to provide explanations for this, his government’s latest move. Israel’s Ambassador in Buenos Aires, Ms. Dorit Shavit, will request a meeting with the Argentinian Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, in order to clarify the motivations for this move.

As soon as contacts between Argentina and Iran had begun, we have asked to be updated on the discussions, but we received no response from the Argentinean authorities.

Israel is clearly and understandably concerned by the matter. The 1994 bombing targeted the AMIA Jewish Community Center, and caused 85 dead and hundreds of wounded, Jews and non-Jews alike. Though the attack took place on Argentinean soil and was aimed at Argentinean citizens, the findings of the ensuing investigation by Argentinean authorities has brought up a clear resemblance with the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, which occurred two years earlier. The proven relation between the two attacks grants us the natural right to follow the investigations and to expect the perpetrators and their sponsors to be brought to justice, particularly in times when to suffer from the Iranian terror plague around the world.

The Argentinean authorities have pointed at Iran as the sponsor of the attack, and took the necessary steps with Interpol in accordance with their findings. In 2006, Argentine prosecutors formally accused the government of Iran of carrying out the attack and a judge issued arrest warrants for seven senior Iranian officials, including Ahmad Vahidi, who is now Iran’s Minister of Defense. In 1994, Vahidi was the head of Iran’s Quds force, and is wanted by Interpol for the bombing.

Now, this recent agreement raises severe questions: it establishes a committee whose recommendations are non-mandatory, and it provides the country which all the evidence points at, namely Iran, with the capacity to delay indefinitely the committee’s works. It is doubtful whether this is how justice will be rendered.

The Ambassador of Argentina in Israel was summoned today to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem for a clarification talk.  The MFA’s Deputy Director-General for Latin America, Ambassador Itzhak Shoham, conveyed Israel’s astonishment and disappointment at the Argentinean government’s decision to collaborate with Iran after the latter’s responsibility for the bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center was exposed by the investigation conducted by the Argentinean authorities themselves.

Amb. Shoham protested the unacceptable attitude of the Argentinean government towards Israel since the beginning of contacts between Buenos Aires and Tehran.

Although a deadly attack destroyed the Embassy of Israel in Buenos Aires two years prior to the AMIA bombing  (killing 29 persons , including four Israeli diplomats  and wounding 250)  and although the findings of the Argentinean investigations have pointed to the great resemblance between the attacks and the involvement of Iran and Hizbullah in both, Argentina has not responded to Israel’s legitimate requests to be informed of its new diplomatic moves with Iran,  nor of the way in which Argentina envisages bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Argentina’s approach is particularly disappointing given the intimate relationship to which Israel is accustomed with Argentina, a very friendly country, Shoham stated.

Amb. Shoham added, “A lack of resolve in dealing with terrorism sends a message of weakness. Had Argentina dealt resolutely with the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy, the 1994 AMIA bombing might not have happened.”

Yesterday, January 24th, President Shimon Peres spoke at the central plenary of the World Economic Forum in Davos.


The President of the Stat of Israel, President Shimon Peres, began his visit at the World Economic Forum in Davos and spoke at a special plenary dedicated to the Middle East in light of the changes and challenges facing the region. At the start of his remarks President Peres commented on the fact that he would be unable to provide headlines on the recent elections in Israel and said: We welcome the elections in Israel. At the moment we cannot guess which way the new government will face and who will be in it, we must wait patiently until Wednesday when the official results will be published. Afterwards, according to the law I will call consult with all the elected groups in the Knesset. Until then I won’t be able to comment further on the matter.”

President Peres spoke in detail about the Arab spring in Egypt, the situation in Syria and the changes in the Middle East; “Today it is almost impossible to be a dictator in the Middle East. The central problem for the people of Egypt today is poverty, unemployment and that is a problem for many in the Middle East. The young generation wants education, employment and a decent salary. Israel respects the results of the elections in Egypt and the elected president. We hope that Egypt will succeed in overcoming its economic difficulties and achieve economic prosperity.”

With respect to the Iranian threat President Peres said, “Iran wants to rule over the Middle East, and no country wants that to happen. Iran is a center of terror, it distributes weapons and terror across the world. Iran is not exclusively an Israeli problem but a problem for the entire world.” President Peres addressed the coalition against Iran under the leadership of the United States of America and said, “I am confident that President Obama’s policies with regards to Iran are correct. President Obama is leading a serious, responsible and just coalition against Iran – the Iranian nation is feeling the impact of economic sanctions.”

President Peres also addressed the ongoing bloodshed in Syria and said, “Syria is suffering from terrible bloodshed with many refugees suffering as a result. I believe that Assad is running out of options and it is a matter of time until Assad’s reign will end. I also believe that the Arab League can bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria, if the member countries work together and will enter with a special military force, with a UN Mandate that will be responsible for maintaining peace and ending the bloodshed. The issue is urgent as innocent people are being killed every day.”

Before closing the plenary session, Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and Chairperson of the World Economic Forum, asked President Peres what his vision for the coming decade and the next generation is as someone who will be celebrating his 90th birthday this year. President Peres responded and said, “I’ll tell you a personal story – as a child I loved telescopes and I would speak to my girlfriend about love and the stars, today I prefer microscopes and to discover the tiny and the hidden that has yet to be uncovered. I believe that in the next decade the world will be completely different, full of possibilities and with many more opportunities and scientific discoveries. The coming decade will focus on the nano, in scientific developments, and that will be the source of future innovations more than space and the stars. It is better for us all to offer hope rather than create despair. Let me tell you a secret: optimists and pessimists die the same way, but they live differently and from my life experience I can tell you that it’s better to live as an optimist.”

Prior to the plenary session President Peres conducted diplomatic meetings with the president of Azerbaijan and the president of Georgia. During both meetings the president’s discussed the Middle East and increasing the strategic cooperation between Israel and each of the countries. President Peres will conduct further meetings during the conference with including with the Chairman and CEO of Cisco, John Chambers; Co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter, Perry Chen; Chairman and CEO of the private equity group Blackstone Stephen Schwarzman and others.

FAQ – Elections In Israel:

Frequently Asked Questions about the January 2013 Elections

1. What are the elections about?

2. What are Israeli elections like?

3. What are the basic principles of Israel’s election process?

4. Who can vote?

5. Can soldiers, the disabled, the infirmed and prison inmates vote?

6. Are absentee ballots permitted?

7. How does voting take place?

8. How are voters identified?

9. What happens on election day?

10. When are elections held?

11. Who is eligible for elected office?

12. Do Israelis vote for parties or individual candidates?

13. What is the Central Elections Committee?

14. What do polling committees do?

15. What must parties do before the elections?

16. How are campaigns financed?

17. How do campaign ads meet the principle of equal opportunity?

18. How is the Knesset formed?

19. How is the Prime Minister chosen?

20. How is the government formed?

1.  What are the elections about?

The upcoming national elections in Israel will be held on Tuesday, 22 January 2013. These elections will determine the composition of the 19th Knesset and of the government to be established based on these results.

Israel is a parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister, who heads Israel’s government, is chosen from among the members of the newly-elected Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

2. What are Israeli elections like?

Israel’s elections reflect the strong democratic tradition of the State of Israel. Election campaigns are a lively affair, accompanied by vigorous debate of the issues. Israelis take great interest in political affairs, including internal policy and foreign relations, and actively participate in the electoral process.

3. What are the basic principles of Israel’s election process?

The framework of the Israeli electoral system is defined in Article 4 of the “Basic Law: The Knesset,” which states: “The Knesset shall be elected by general, national, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections, in accordance with the Knesset Elections Law.”

  • General: Every Israeli citizen aged 18 or older on election day has the right to vote.
  • National: The entire country constitutes a single electoral constituency. In Israel’s proportional representation system, candidates represent national parties and not electoral districts or local constituencies.
  • Direct: The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, is elected directly by the voters, not through a body of electors. On election day, voters cast one ballot for a single political party to represent them in the Knesset.
  • Equal: All votes cast are equal in weight.
  • Secret: Elections are by secret ballot.
  • Proportional: The 120 Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total national vote. However, the minimum required threshold for a party to be represented in the Knesset is 2% of the total votes cast.

4. Who can vote?

Voting is a right granted to every Israeli citizen who has reached the age of 18 or older on election day.

Israelis of all ethnic groups and religious beliefs, including Arab-Israelis, actively participate in the process.

 Every eligible Israeli citizen is automatically registered.

5. Can soldiers, the disabled, the infirmed and prison inmates vote?

Soldiers on active duty vote in polling stations in their units. Particular arrangements are made for prison inmates to vote, as well as for those confined to hospitals. Disabled persons who are ambulatory can vote in one of the 1,549 special voting stations designed for accessibility.

6. Are absentee ballots permitted?

Israeli law does not provide for absentee ballots and in general, voting takes place only on Israeli soil. Exceptions are made for Israeli citizens serving abroad on official business who can vote in 96 Israeli embassies and consulates or on Israeli ships.

7. How does voting take place?

The Israeli voting method is user-friendly, even to voters who have limited knowledge of Hebrew and Arabic. Inside the voting booth, voters select a slip of paper that represents their chosen party from an assortment in a tray, put the slip in an envelope and then place the envelope in the ballot box.

Registered voters vote at one of the more than 10,000 polling stations.

8. How are voters identified?

Voters must be identified by one of the following identification cards:

  • An official I.D. card (teudat ze’hut) with a picture (issued free to all Israelis from the age of 16);
  • A valid Israeli passport with a picture;
  • A valid driver’s license with a picture;
  • A Knesset member I.D. card.

The Interior Minister may approve identification without a photo I.D. in rare cases, such as Muslim women who wear a veil.

9. What happens on election day?

Election day is a holiday in order to enable all potential voters to participate. Free public transportation is available to voters who happen to be outside their polling districts on this day.

In the upcoming elections, polls will open at 07:00 in the morning of Tuesday, 22 January 2013 and close at 22:00 (10pm). In smaller communities, hospitals and prisons voting takes place between 08:00 and 20:00 (8pm). If all the registered voters have voted at a particular station, that polling station may close early.

Voting may take place earlier in special cases. Polling is held twelve days before election day in Israeli diplomatic mission and ships, while the votes of soldiers may be collected up to 72 hours before election day.

10. When are elections held?


Elections to the Knesset are held every four years, unless one of the following situations occurs:

  • The Knesset passes a bill to disperse the Knesset;
  • The Knesset has not approved the budget within three months of the start of the financial year;
  • The Prime Minister asks the Knesset to disperse;
  • A no-confidence vote has passed and a new government has not formed.

The Knesset can also decide, by a special majority of 80 votes, to prolong its term beyond four years if there are special circumstances. This happened once, in 1973, when the elections to the Eighth Knesset were delayed by two months because of the Yom Kippur War.

Like the Knesset, the government is elected for four years. Its tenure may be shortened if the Prime Minister is unable to continue in office due to death, resignation, permanent incapacitation, impeachment or if the Prime Minister ceases to function as a member of the Knesset. However, the government may appoint one of its other members who is a Knesset member as acting Prime Minister.

11. Who is eligible for elected office?

Every citizen aged 21 or older is eligible for election to the Knesset, unless they are excluded by one of the exceptions under the law.

Examples of exceptions include:

  • An individual who holds a senior official position: the President, a Chief Rabbi, the State Comptroller, judges and senior public officials, as well as the chief-of-staff and high-ranking military officers may not stand for election to the Knesset unless they have resigned their position before the elections in the period specified by law;
  • Cases where a court has specifically restricted this right by virtue of a law;

According to the “Basic Law: The Knesset,” the Central Elections Committee may prevent a candidates’ list from participating in elections if its objectives or actions, expressly or by implication, include one of the following:

  • Negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people;
  • Negation of the democratic character of Israel;
  • Incitement to racism.

This decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court, which has reversed decisions by the Central Elections Committee.

12. Do Israelis vote for parties or individual candidates?

Knesset elections are based on a vote for a party rather than for individuals and the 34 parties that will compete for election to the 19th Knesset reflect a wide range of outlooks and beliefs.

The number and order of members entering the new Knesset for each party corresponds to its list of candidates as presented for election. For example, if a party receives 10 mandates, the first ten candidates on its list enter the new Knesset.

13. What is the Central Elections Committee?

The Central Elections Committee is responsible for conducting and supervising the elections. It is headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court, currently Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, and includes representatives of the parties holding seats in the outgoing Knesset.

14. What do polling committees do?

Regional election committees oversee the functioning of local polling committees, which include representatives of at least three parties in the outgoing Knesset. Anyone aged 16 or older is eligible to serve on a polling committee.

15. What must parties do before the elections?

Prior to the elections, each party submits its list of candidates for the Knesset (in order of precedence).

The parties select their candidates for the Knesset in primaries or by other procedures.

Only registered parties or an alignment of two or more registered parties can present a list of candidates and participate in the elections.

16. How are campaigns financed?

  1. The State of Israel covers most of the parties’ budgets and only a small fraction of party financing originates from sources other than the state budget.

According to the Party Financing Law, a treasury allocation for election campaigns is granted to the factions. Each faction receives an allocation at the rate of one pre-defined “financing unit” per seat won in the previous Knesset elections plus retroactively one unit per mandate won in the new Knesset, divided by two, plus one additional financing unit. The current rate of a financing unit is 1.34 million shekels (approximately USD 350,000). New factions receive a similar allocation, retroactively, based on the number of seats won in the elections.

In the last elections (24 February 2009) the treasury paid out 160 million shekels (approximately USD 38 million) in party financing.

  1. The law concerning non-public financing, such as membership dues and contributions, is extremely strict and limiting

No faction may receive a contribution, directly or indirectly, from any person or his dependents in excess of the sum established by law and linked to the Consumer Price Index. An individual household may contribute up to 2,300 shekels (approximately USD 600) in an election year, and 1,000 shekels per year without elections.

A faction or list of candidates may not receive a financial contribution from someone who is not eligible to vote in the elections, such as foreign nationals who do not also hold Israeli citizenship.

Corporations are not allowed to make donations to parties.

17. How do campaign ads meet the principle of equal opportunity?

Election broadcasts begin on television 21 days before the elections. All election advertising is broadcast free of charge on television and radio, although the parties are responsible for preparing the advertisements at their own expense. Under the principle of equal opportunity, it is prohibited to purchase broadcasting time.

The Election Law contains strict rules regarding the timing, length and content of television and radio election broadcasts. Parties participating in the elections receive broadcasting minutes according to a formula set in law. Each is given a basic and equal allocation of minutes for broadcasts on television and radio. Factions which have candidates who served in the outgoing Knesset are allocated an additional amount of time based on their number of former Members of Knesset (MKs).

For example, each party receives 7 basic minutes of advertising on television and an additional 2 minute per former MK. On radio, each party list receives 15 basic minutes and 4 additional ones per outgoing MK. Parties are also limited in the amount of inches of election advertising they can print in newspapers.

Other restrictions on advertising include:

  • No use of children under the age of 15;
  • No use of the IDF that creates the impression that the army identifies with a particular party;
  • No use of the names or images of victims of terrorism without their permission or that of their surviving family.

18. How is the Knesset formed?

Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total national vote.

A party’s surplus votes, which are insufficient for an additional seat, can be transferred to another party according to agreements made between them prior to the election. If no agreement exists, the surplus votes are distributed according to the parties’ proportional sizes in the elections.

19. How is the Prime Minister chosen?

The Prime Minister is selected from among the Knesset members. The President of the State assigns the task to the Knesset member considered to have the best chance of forming a viable coalition government in light of the Knesset election results.

The direct election of the Prime Minister, was instituted in Israel in 1996. After two election rounds (1996 and 1999), the law was rescinded (2001).

20. How is the government formed?

  1. The government (cabinet of ministers) is the executive authority of the state, charged with administering internal and foreign affairs, including security matters.
  1. When a new government is to be formed, the President of the State – after consulting with representatives of the parties elected to the Knesset – assigns the task of forming the government to a Knesset member. This Knesset member is usually the leader of the party with the largest Knesset representation or the head of the party that leads a coalition of more than 60 members.
  1. Since a government requires the Knesset’s confidence to function, it must have a supporting coalition of at least 61 of the 120 Knesset members.

To date, no single party has received enough Knesset seats to be able to form a government by itself; thus all Israeli governments have been based on coalitions of several parties. Those remaining outside the government compose the opposition.

  1. The Knesset member to whom the task is assigned has a period of 28 days to form a government. The President may extend the term by an additional period of time, not exceeding 14 days.

If this period (up to 42 days) has passed and the designated Knesset member has not succeeded in forming a government, the President may then assign the task of forming a government to another Knesset member. This Knesset member has a period of 28 days for the fulfillment of the task. There are no further extensions.

If a government still has not been formed, an absolute majority of Knesset members (61) has the option of applying in writing to the President, asking him to assign the task to a particular Knesset member. Such a precedent has yet to occur.

  1. When a government has been formed, the designated Prime Minister presents it to the Knesset within 45 days of publication of election results in the official gazette. At this time, he announces its composition, the basic guidelines of its policy and the distribution of functions among its ministers.

The Prime Minister then asks the Knesset for an expression of confidence. The government is installed when the Knesset has expressed confidence in it by a majority of 61 Knesset members. Then the new ministers assume their offices. by the Office of the President)

President Shimon Peres, paid a visit to the official residence of Archbishop Elias Chacour in Haifa earlier today. President Peres sang traditional Christmas songs with the local children’s choir from the Christian-Arabic school in I’billin.

President Peres delivered a festive greeting to Christians in Israel and across the world and said: “It is for me a privilege, as president of the State of Israel, to send profound wishes on behalf of all of Israel for a Happy Christmas to the whole Christian world and to express the hope that the Middle East may enter an era of peace and prosperity. The State of Israel is committed to protecting all the holy sites and the freedom of worship for everyone. In the Holy Land coexistence between Jews, Christians and Muslims will continue. From the city of Haifa, a model of peace and coexistence, I wish to send one clear message to the world – a message of peace and unity between all faiths, between all nations.”

President Peres added: “We are proud of the Christian community in Israel and are also proud that they feel fully at home, completely free to worship in their own way and to continue with their own traditions. I wish them and all Christians everywhere a Merry Christmas.”

President Peres was welcomed at the festivities by a children’s choir dressed in traditional Christmas outfits, leaders of the Christian community in northern Israel and Archbishop Chacour who said: “I thank the president of the State of Israel for coming to speak with the Christian community and share his blessings with us before Christmas and the New Year. The Christian community in Israel is small but proud of being Israeli citizens. The community will continue to work in partnership to build the state, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with Jews and Muslims.

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav said: “In Haifa we don’t have coexistence but one existence – in Haifa we celebrate the Festival of Festivals with complete equality between all religions and that is my wish for Christians across the Middle East this Christmas.”

Amnon Lipkin-Shahak (1944-2012)

Lt. Gen. (res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Israel’s 15th Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, passed away yesterday at the age of 68 after battling cancer. Lipkin-Shahak was born in  Tel Aviv in 1944, a few years before the modern State of Israel was founded, and throughout his amazing life, helped shape it into what it is today.

His military service saw him joining the Paratroopers in 1962, rising to the rank of deputy battalion commander for his brigade during the Six-Day War in 1967. During his career, he was twice awarded with the  Medal of Courage, one of Israel’s highest military honors. His role in  Operation Spring of Youth as a Lt. Colonel, the 1973 raid in Lebanon against members of Black September, the terrorist organization responsible for the Munich Olympics attack, is one of the most famous military operations in history (also forever immortalized in Hollywood by Steven Spielberg’s Munich).

In 1995, Lipkin-Shahak succeeded Ehud Barak and became the 15th Chief of Staff of the IDF, during a very important time in Israel’s history, with the peace process in full swing as well as constant suicide bombings from Palestinian terrorists. After retiring from the military in 1998, he was elected to the Knesset the following year. Over the next few years, in addition to representing Israel as a Parliamentarian he served as Minister of Tourism and later on as Minister of Transportation.

He is survived by his wife, journalist Tali Lipkin-Shahak, and five children.

Israel’s leaders had extremely kind words to say of Amnon, with his former colleague in both the IDF and in politics, Ehud Barak said in a statement he was an “exemplary example of courage, leadership and perseverance in the battlefield and in the diplomatic battle.”

Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu called him “a hero of Israel who dedicated his best years to the defense of the state of Israel….His heroism was evident in the brave way he conducted himself throughout his illness. Not for a moment did he ever lose his dignity.”

President Shimon Peres said “Amnon was a true hero who carried the torch of peace, a rare and exceptionally wise man. His students and soldiers saw him as a role model like no other, they trusted every word he said and people queued at his door seeking his wisdom, honesty and courage.”

May his memory be blessed.



Late Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir meets with US Senate Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye

Late Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir meets with US Senate Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (GPO archive photo, April 1986)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Tuesday, 18 December 2012), issued the following statement on the passing of US Senator (D-Hawaii) Daniel K. Inouye:

“On behalf of the people of Israel, I wish to express my deepest condolences on the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye.

I was proud to call Senator Inouye a friend. He was a humble man with a towering spirit, whose exemplary bravery on the battlefield during World War II was followed by an exemplary life dedicated to serving his country and defending its most cherished values.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, our country has been blessed to have had the unwavering support of outstanding American leaders who were dedicated to strengthening the security of Israel and to deepening the unique and powerful alliance between Israel and the United States.

But even among these leaders, the contributions of Senator Inouye stand out. His friendship to the Jewish people knew no bounds, and he worked tirelessly throughout his public life to safeguard the one and only Jewish state. The people of Israel will forever owe him a profound debt of gratitude.

My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Inouye’s family at this difficult time

Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown had just started a program for “Spirit Days” to take place on the first Friday of every month, calling on everyone to wear the school’s colors, green and white. On this past Friday morning in Newtown, this quiet Connecticut town was home to one of the worst mass shootings in history, in which 26 people were killed, most of them children just 6 or 7 years old.

The small-town community was devastated, their town will be forever synonymous with one of the most heinous crimes in American history. The holiday season, which should bring people together in joy, has instead brought them together in grief and sadness.

While this crime, the murder of young children, is one of the hardest things for anyone to comprehend, the pain it has caused is easy to understand and feel for yourself. The prayers and vigils that started in Connecticut have spread not just around the United States, but around the world. Everyone in Israel, has been deeply upset and shocked by Friday’s shooting. Israel’s leaders reached out to President Barack Obama and the American public to express their sympathies and condolences.

The youngest victim was Noah Pozner, one of the 20 first graders killed on Friday. “As we light candles for the seventh night of Hanukkah and for Shabbat, our hearts are heavy with the tragic news,” Shelly Katz, the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut, headquartered in neighboring Southbury, wrote in a letter to the local community Friday.

Israel’s Consul General of the State of Israel in New York, Ambassador Ido Aharoni, traveled to Newtown over the weekend to meet with its students, teachers, and community leaders. While visiting the town’s synagogue, Congregation Adath Israel, Ambassador Aharoni read aloud the letters sent from President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and spoke with some of the students of the school.



All of Israel was stunned and saddened to learn of Friday’s shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut which left 26 killed, including 20 children. Israel’s leaders reached out over the weekend to President Barack Obama to express their sympathies and support.


Letter from President Shimon Peres to US President Barack Obama

Dear President Obama,

On behalf of the people of Israel, as friends and as parents, we stand with you today in contemplation and grief over the atrocious, incomprehensible massacre of 20 children and six adults - educators - at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

No experience with death can be likened to that of a parents’ loss of their child. No crime is more heinous than the killing of a child.

Our hearts are with the bereaved families of the victims, the mourning community in Newtown, Connecticut and the people of the United States of America. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Shimon Peres
President of the State of Israel
Letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to US President Barack Obama

Dear President Obama,

I was shocked and horrified by today’s savage massacre of innocent children and adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

We in Israel have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and agony they bring.

I want to express my profound grief, and that of all the people in Israel, to the families that lost their loved ones.

May you and the American people find the strength to overcome this unspeakable tragedy.

With my deepest condolences,

Benjamin Netanyahu,
Prime Minister of Israel

The resolution is designed to advance entrepreneurship as a catalyst for development, and calls for the creation of conditions favorable to entrepreneurs, education, and removing bureaucratic impediments to the establishment of businesses.

This is the first time that the United Nations adopted a resolution on the subject of entrepreneurship as a new means to meet the challenges of poverty and to create growth and jobs. Israel initiated and presented the resolution as the head of a group of almost 100 nations.


A growing consensus on the critical role of entrepreneurship in economic development is emerging. Studies from around the world are consistently linking entrepreneurship with stable, sustainable job creation and GDP growth. But the benefits of encouraging entrepreneurship go beyond pure economics. As individuals become more self]sufficient, and more empowered, they are more likely to seek higher levels of education and better living conditions for themselves and their children. As President Kagame of Rwanda has said: “Entrepreneurship is the surest way for a nation to meet its goals and to develop prosperity for the greatest number of people.”

If we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we must work towards developing human capital in all countries and societies, and across sectors. Entrepreneurship has the power to help build societies in which people have the confidence, skill and desire to solve problems they see around them. By creating new businesses that provide desired goods and services, or by using entrepreneurial principles to create social ventures, entrepreneurs around the world have a unique ability to find solutions to poverty, improve social conditions, and confront environmental degradation.

Around the world, particularly in developing countries, aspiring entrepreneurs often face overwhelming challenges when starting up their business. This may be because of difficult regulatory frameworks, high administrative burdens, a lack of financial support, or entrenched social barriers.

Governments, civil society, academia and the private sector all have an important role to play in supporting entrepreneurship and enabling people to exercise their talents. A multi-stakeholder approach to promoting entrepreneurship is necessary to prepare future entrepreneurs and leaders to solve more complex, interlinked, and fast-changing problems.
Statement by Ambassador Ron Prosor to the UN Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee)
7 December 2012

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

On behalf of the 97 co-sponsors, I sincerely thank all the delegations who supported this resolution today. I also express my deep appreciation to the delegations that participated constructively in our extensive and transparent negotiations.
The co-sponsors and supporters of this resolution are diverse. They include nations from all corners of the globe, both developing and developed. Their support reflects a growing global awareness that entrepreneurship is a critical driver of development in the new millennium.

Mr. Chairman,

Albert Einstein once wrote that “logic may get you from A to Z, but imagination will get you everywhere.”

Entrepreneurs are dreamers – risk-takers who dare to change the world. They are people like the young woman in Peru who built a recycling plant to turn the piles of waste in Lima’s poorest neighborhoods into a source of income. They are the two brothers from India who transformed a small online bookstore into a billion dollar enterprise. They are the recent college graduate in Ethiopia who turned a small sandal workshop on her grandmother’s property into a multimillion dollar footwear company.

These are the people who offer developing communities the best hope for breaking the cycle of poverty. No one is in a better position to solve a country’s problems than its entrepreneurs.

Today, this Committee is sending a clear and simple message: entrepreneurship is a primary pathway to sustainable economic growth for all.

Entrepreneurship has a ripple effect. By unlocking minds, we can inspire change. Business leaders build teams and instill confidence in their peers. They empower others to pursue their dreams.

Mr. Chairman,

Israel, and all the other co-sponsors, hoped for consensus on this resolution. Every country – every country – benefits from empowering its entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, the Arab Group announced that it would vote against this resolution even before the negotiations ended. What a shame.

Few places could benefit from entrepreneurship more than the Arab world. People across the Arab world have risen up precisely because they are looking for change. They are demanding better lives, better economies, and better governance. They are demanding an end to the rampant corruption, discrimination against women, and economic stagnation in their region. But the Arab delegations here today – like their governments – have not responded to these calls. Instead, by voting against this resolution, they have turned their backs on their own people – and tried to turn back the clock on the important work of this committee.

This resolution has the promise to create a better world. It represents hope and progress for people in all corners of the planet – from the highest mountains of Nepal to the lowest valleys of Bolivia, from the sands of the Sahara to the Great Barrier Reef.

Every Arab delegate who voted “no” is sending the message that he cares far more about petty politics than human prosperity. This resolution can bring innovation to those who need it most. It can move humanity forward. And we should not allow certain delegations in this hall to move it backwards.

Mr. Chairman,

Israel’s experience shows that humans are a country’s greatest natural resource. In just six decades, Israel has transitioned from a developing nation to a start-up nation. We have moved from cultivating apples to designing Apple Computers, from harvesting oranges to building Orange mobile phones. We have more start-ups per capita than any nation on the planet. Tel Aviv was even recently named the second most entrepreneurship-friendly city in the world.

These achievements are no accident. They are the result of close collaboration between business and government – and a culture that rewards risk-taking, embraces entrepreneurship, and encourages imagination.

Israel’s story shows that if you want stability, empower your people. If you want prosperity, invest in your citizens. And if you want sustainability, engage every member of society – especially women and youth.

This, above all, is the core of our resolution.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to once again thank those countries that have worked with us tirelessly to adopt this resolution. The enthusiasm of so many in this room proves that we all share the same vision, both developing and developed nations, both North and South.

Today’s success is far from the end of our collaboration. We must now take the words from the printed page and breathe life into them. It is time that the UN puts business creation and growth at the forefront of its development policies. Regardless of size, every business venture – from a small start-up in the Amazon to the next – must be given the chance to thrive.

The spark of ingenuity exists in every society. All people have the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality; to turn their hopes into change. May this be the moment that the international community fully embraces entrepreneurship, so that people around the world can have a path to create a future they all can be proud of.

Thank you.



Israel-Russia relations

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

On Tuesday, December 4th, the bilateral Russian-Israeli intergovernmental economic committee will meet at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. The committee is headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman and Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. The committee meets once a year, alternately in Jerusalem and in Moscow, to discuss current economic issues that concern the two countries, with the aim of continuing the fruitful cooperation between them.

At the end of the meeting, the two sides will sign a number of agreements, including a “roaming” agreement which will make it possible to lower the rates for cell phone users from both countries who are in the other country. This agreement was initiated by the Israeli embassy in the Russian Federation. Also to be signed are a framework agreement for cooperation in the field of tourism and a joint announcement on the opening of negotiations between the sides towards a free trade zone agreement.

On Monday (3 December), joint working groups met to discuss: trade, research and development, energy, space, social welfare and security, tourism, and agriculture.