On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet: “Last night, we successfully concluded five days of fighting against the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.” He continued: “The directive I gave, together with the defense minister, to the IDF and Shin Bet amounted to two words: ‘Initiative’ and ‘surprise’.”
The PM continued, saying after the brilliant Operation Shield and Arrow concluded, his message to the same security forces also amounted to two words: “Well done.”
Netanyahu said the operation was perfect: “With complete surprise and continuous initiative, we targeted the entire Islamic Jihad leadership in Gaza. We destroyed 17 Jihad command centers. We eliminated dozens of terrorists. We hit rocket and missile arsenals, took out anti-tank units, etc.”
He then switched to the economy, saying: “In one of the most challenging periods for the global economy in recent years, the international credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s once again confirmed Israel’s positive and high credit rating. I say: This is a clear expression of confidence in the important and correct economic policy that we are leading. I congratulate Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for this important achievement. This is no mere lip service. I think that the efforts we have made in recent months, which were very challenging in every respect, I think that this achievement deserves special notice; there is nothing like the markets having their say.”
Netanyahu added: “In the coming weeks, we will pass the state budget and the accompanying arrangements law in the Knesset to continue our efforts to strengthen the economy and to fight the cost of living. These efforts include encouraging competition and the fight against bureaucracy to lower prices.
“Last week, I visited one of the first of more than 50 branches of the international retail chain ‘Carrefour’ that has entered Israel. The chain plans to open 200 branches in Israel in which they will sell hundreds of European products. Now, thanks to our lifting of regulations, these products do not need to pass the unnecessary bureaucratic impediment of receiving an Israeli standard. What is good for Europe – is good for Israel. These steps will lead to the lowering of prices. I believe that the Israeli competitors will put up a fight in lowering prices on their part. There is no other choice; the market supports this. It is good for the consumer. It is good for all citizens of Israel.
“I would like to commend Economy Minister Nir Barkat for overseeing this important achievement which we have been working on for years and have just now realized.”
Netanyahu then switched to diplomacy: “Last Thursday I met with the President of Cyprus. We agreed to continue building the alliance of democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean: Israel-Cyprus-Greece. We built this alliance several years ago and it has very important implications, especially regarding Israel’s standing as a major energy power.
“The project that we focused on is the supply of Israeli gas to Europe via the pipeline from our gas field to a huge liquefaction facility that will be built in Cyprus. This link will jump the Israeli economy forward to new heights and will strengthen Israel’s standing as an important international energy supplier. You know that Europe needs energy. It needs gas and the efficient production of inexpensive gas from Israel to Europe. This will greatly strengthen Israel’s standing.”
“Last week I also met with the new President of Kenya,” the PM told his cabinet. “We agreed to further strengthen the cooperation between us in all areas. This visit, like the opening of the Chadian Embassy in Israel, expresses the importance that many African countries attribute to Israel, and the importance that Israel attributes to Africa.
“I would like to commend Foreign Minister Eli Cohen for resolving the crisis with Poland, for dedicating the new Israeli Embassy in Turkmenistan, for his successful visit to Ukraine, and for additional important actions that we will describe in due time. These join the steps that we have already taken: We signed a free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates and we opened direct flights over Oman.
“I would like to tell all government ministers that the effort to deepen and expand the Abraham accords has not stopped even for a moment, including at present,” Netanyahu concluded.