Elections to the 13h Knesset were held on 20 June 1992. The Israel Labor party won 44 seats, Likud 32, Meretz 12, Tsomet 8, Shas 6, The National Religious Party 6, United Torah Judaism 4, Moledet 3, Democratic Front for Peace and Equality 3, and the Democratic Arab Party 2. On 2 July 1992 President Herzog charged Yitzhak Rabin, the Chairman of the Labor party, with the task of forming the new government. That task was completed a week later, when Mr. Rabin formed a coalition consisting of Labor, Meretz and the Sephardi Torah Guardians (Shas). This gave the government a 62-seat majority. It also ensured the support of five additional votes of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, and the Democratic Arab Party.
In presenting his government, Mr. Rabin promised to continue the peace process based on the Madrid Conference framework. He called for a relentless war on terrorism. He alluded to a halt in settlement activity in the territories apart from enhancing and strengthening Jewish settlement along the lines of confrontation. There would be no change in the status of Jerusalem. He called for a change in the order of national priorities and in the allocation of financial resources. Mr. Rabin then presented his cabinet, He would also serve as defense minister. Shimon Peres was appointed minister of foreign affairs. The new government won a vote of confidence on 14 July and was sworn in the next day. Text of Mr. Rabin's address follows:
Your Excellency Mr. President, Speaker of the Knesset, Members of the Knesset:
The Government asking for the confidence of the 13th Knesset is keenly aware that the eyes of every one of Israel's citizens are focused on it with a prayer of great hope. Many people in Israel and in countries throughout the world look forward today to our embarking upon a new path, to fresh momentum, to turning a new page in the annals of the State of Israel. Attended by their best wishes and concern, we are today setting out on the long and difficult journey.
Members of the Knesset, please take note that this Government is determined to expend all the energy required, to take any path, to do everything necessary, everything possible, and more, for the sake of national and personal security, to achieve peace and prevent war, to do away with unemployment, for the sake of immigration and absorption, for economic growth, to strengthen the foundations of democracy and the rule of law, to ensure equality for all citizens, and to protect human rights. We are going to change the national order of priorities. We know very well that obstacles will stand in our path. Crises will erupt; there will be disappointments, tears, and pain. But after it all, once we have traveled this road, we shall have a strong state, a good state, a state in which we will be proud to be citizens and partners in the great effort: "A concerted, stubborn, and eternal effort of a thousand arms. Will it succeed in rolling the stone off the mouth of the well?" asked the poetess Rachel. The answer is within us; the answer is we, ourselves.
Members of the Knesset, on behalf of you all, veterans and newcomers to this House, I wish to thank the departing Speaker of the Knesset, Dov Shilansky, for the role he has played and for his contribution to the Knesset and to the democratic way of life in the State of Israel. You have the gratitude of us all.
I also wish to extend heartfelt congratulations on behalf, I hope, of us all, to the newly elected Speaker of the Knesset, my friend Shevach Weiss, whom I consider to be a symbol of the history of the Jewish people in the past generation: a brand snatched from the fire, a Jewish youth who survived the harrowing destruction of the Holocaust, a new immigrant who set down roots in Israel, studied and taught here, and is today the object of our admiration. May I wish you, and this House, much success.
And on your behalf, Members of the Knesset, with a warm handshake that crosses party lines, differing views, and political rivalries, I would like to welcome the new Members of the Knesset. I also wish to express my gratitude and esteem to the 40 departing Members of the Knesset, many of them among this country's builders and its finest fighters. I am unable to read out their names and praise the work of each and every one of them, but I am convinced that all the parties here, right and left, religious and secular, are desirous to express their thanks.
Members of the Knesset, on the first day of Tammuz 5752, July 2, 1992, the President of the State charged m e with forming a Government for Israel, and on Friday, the 9th of Tammuz, July 10th, I informed him that I had succeeded in that
task. Participating in the Government that is asking for the Knesset's confidence today are the Labor, Democratic Israel (Meretz), and Sephardi Torah Guardians (Shas) parties. Following clarifications of its policy towards the Arab population
in Israel, the Government will also be supported by the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality and the Democratic Arab Party. The Government will keep its doors open to parties that are prepared to endorse its basic policies.
Despite possible difference of opinion among the members of the coalition, which have come from various parts of the political spectrum, the new Government is united by the sense permeating the people of Israel that this is a propitious hour, a time of great possibilities and opportunities that we shall do our utmost not to lose or squander.
Mr. Speaker, Members of the Knesset, in the last decade of the twentieth century, the atlases, history and geography books no longer present an up-to-date picture of the world. Walls of enmity have fallen, borders have disappeared, powers have crumbled and ideologies collapsed, states have been born, states have died and, also, the gates of emigration have been flung open. It is our duty, to ourselves and to our children, to see the new world as it is now - to discern its dangers, explore its prospects and do everything possible so that the State of Israel will fit into this world whose face is changing. No longer are we necessarily "a people that dwells alone," and no longer is it true that "the whole world is against us." We must overcome the sense of isolation that has held us in its thrall for almost half a century. We must join the international movement toward peace, reconciliation and cooperation that is spreading over the entire globe these days - lest we be the last to remain, all alone, in the station.
The new Government has accordingly made it a central goal to promote the making of peace and take vigorous steps that will lead to the end of the Arab Israeli conflict. We shall do so based on the recognition by the Arab countries, and the Palestinians, that Israel is a sovereign state with a right to live in peace and security. We believe wholeheartedly that peace is possible, that it is imperative, and that it will ensue. "I shall believe in the future," wrote the poet Shaul Tchernikovsky, "even if it is far off, the day will come when peace and blessings are borne from nation to nation" - and I want to believe that that day is not far off.
The Government will propose to the Arab states and the Palestinians the continuation of the peace talks based upon the framework forged at the Madrid Conference. As a first step toward a permanent solution we shall discuss the institution of autonomy in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza District. We do not intend to lose precious time. The Government's first directive to the negotiating teams will be to step up the talks and hold ongoing discussions between the sides. Within a short time we shall renew the talks in order to diminish the flame of enmity between the Palestinians and the State of Israel.
As a first step, to illustrate our sincerity and good will, I wish to invite the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to an informal talk, here in Jerusalem, so that we can hear their views, make ours heard, and create an appropriate atmosphere for neighborly relations.
To you, the Palestinians in the territories, I wish to say from this rostrum: We have been fated to live together on the same patch of land, in the same country. We lead our lives with you, beside you and against you. You have failed in the war against us. One hundred years of your bloodshed and terror against us have brought you only suffering, humiliation, bereavement and pain. You have lost thousands of your sons and daughters, and you are losing ground all the time. For 44 years now, you have been living under a delusion. Your leaders have led you through lies and deceit. They have missed every opportunity, rejected all the proposals for a settlement, and have taken you from one tragedy to another.
And you, Palestinians in the territories, who live in the wretched poverty of Gaza and Khan Yunis, in the refugee camps of Hebron and Shechem; you who have never known a single day of freedom and joy in your lives - listen to us, if only this once. We offer you the fairest and most viable proposal from our standpoint today - autonomy - self-government - with all its advantages and limitations. You will not get everything you want. Perhaps neither will we. So once and for all, take your destiny in your hands. Don't lose this opportunity that may never return. Take our proposal seriously - to avoid further suffering and grief-, to end the shedding of tears and of blood.
The new Government urges the Palestinians in the territories to give peace a chance - and to cease all violent and terrorist activity for the duration of the negotiations on autonomy. We are well aware that the Palestinians are not all of a single mold, that there are exceptions and differences among them. But we urge the population, which has been suffering for years, and the perpetrators of the riots in the territories, to forswear stones and knives and await the results of the talks that may well bring peace to the Middle East. If you reject this proposal, we shall go on talking but treat the territories as though there were no dialogue going on between us. Instead of extending a friendly hand, we will employ every possible means to prevent terror and violence. The choice, in this case, is yours.
We have lost our finest sons and daughters in the struggle over this land and in the war against the Arab armies. My comrades in the Israel Defense Forces, and I myself, as a former military man who took part in Israel's wars, lovingly preserve the memory of the fallen and regard ourselves as sharing in the pain of the families whose sleepless nights, year in and year out, are one long Day of Remembrance to them. Only people who have lost those 'dearest to them can understand us. Our hearts also go out to the disabled, whose bodies bear the scars of war and terrorism.
Neither have we forgotten, on this distinguished occasion, the IDF soldiers who are prisoners of war or missing in action. We shall continue to make every effort to bring them home, and our thoughts are with their families today, as well.
Members of the Knesset, we shall continue to fight for our right to live here in peace and tranquility. No knife or stone, no fire-bomb or land-mine will stop us. The Government presented here today sees itself as responsible for the security of every one of Israel's citizens, Jews and Arabs, within the State of Israel, in Judea, in Samaria and in the Gaza District.
We shall strike hard, without flinching, at terrorists and those who abet them. There will be no compromises in the war against terror. The IDF and the other security forces will prove to the agents of bloodshed that our lives are not free for the taking. We shall act to contain the hostile activities as much as possible and maintain the personal security of the inhabitants of Israel and the territories, while both upholding the law and guarding the rights of the individual.
Allow me to take this opportunity, on your behalf as well as my own, Members of the Knesset, to express gratitude and appreciation to the soldiers and officers of the IDF, to the undercover soldiers of the Security Services, to the policemen of the Border Guard, and the Israel Police for the nights spent in ambushes and manhunts, for the days spent on guard, and for their watchful eyes. I shake your hands in the name of us all.
Members of the Knesset, the plan to apply self-government to the Palestinians in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza - the autonomy of the Camp David Accords - is an interim settlement for a period of five years. No later than three years after its institution, discussions will begin on the permanent solution. It is only natural that the holding of talks on the subject creates concern among those among us who have chosen to settle in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District. I hereby inform you that the Government, by means of the IDF and the other security services, will be responsible for the security and welfare of the residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District. However, at the same time, the Government will refrain from any steps and activities that would disrupt the proper conduct of the peace negotiations.
We see the need to stress that the Government will continue to enhance and strengthen Jewish settlement along the lines of confrontation, due to their importance for security, and in Greater Jerusalem.
This Government, like all of its predecessors, believes there is no disagreement in this House concerning Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. United Jerusalem has been and will forever be the capital of the Jewish People, under Israeli sovereignty, a focus of the dreams and longings of every Jew. The Government is firm in its resolve that Jerusalem will not be open to negotiation. The coming years will also be marked by the extension of construction in Greater Jerusalem. All Jews, religious and secular, have vowed "If I forget, thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither." This vow unites us all and certainly includes me as a native of Jerusalem.
The Government will safeguard freedom of worship for the followers of all religions and all communities in Jerusalem. It will rigorously maintain free access to the holy places for all sects and ensure the conduct of a normal and pleasant life for those who visit and reside in the city.
Members of the Knesset, the winds of peace have lately been blowing from Moscow to Washington, from Berlin to Beijing. The voluntary liquidation of weapons of mass destruction and the abrogation of military pacts have lessened the risk of war in the Middle East, as well. And yet this region, with Syria and Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, is still fraught with danger. Thus, when it comes to security, we will concede nothing. From our standpoint, security takes preference even over peace. A number of countries in our region have recently stepped up their efforts to develop and produce nuclear weapons. According to published reports, Iraq was very close to attaining nuclear arms. Fortunately, its nuclear capability was discovered in time and, according to various testimonies, was damaged during and following the Gulf War. The possibility that nuclear weapons will be introduced into the Middle East in the coming years is a very grave and negative development from Israel's standpoint. The Government, from its very outset - and possibly in collaboration with other countries - will address itself to thwarting any possibility that one of Israel's enemies will possess nuclear weapons. Israel has long been prepared to face the threat of nuclear arms. At the same time, this situation requires us to give further thought to the urgent need to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and live in peace with our Arab partners.
Members of the Knesset, from this moment on the concept of a "peace process" is no longer relevant. From now on we shall not speak of a "process" but of making peace. In that peace-making we wish to call upon the aid of Egypt, whose late leader, President Anwar Sadat, exhibited such courage and was able to bequeath to his people - and to us - the first peace agreement. The Government will seek further ways of improving neighborly relations and strengthening ties with Egypt and its president, Hosni Mubarak.,
I call upon the leaders of the Arab countries to follow the lead of Egypt and its president and take the step that will bring us - and them - peace. I invite the King of Jordan and the Presidents of Syria and Lebanon to this rostrum in Israel's Knesset, here in Jerusalem, for the purpose of talking peace. In the service of peace, I am prepared to travel to Amman, Damascus and Beirut today or tomorrow, for there is no greater victory than the victory of peace. Wars have their victors and their vanquished, but everyone is a victor in peace.
Sharing with us in the making of peace will also be the United States, whose friendship and special closeness we prize. We shall spare no effort to strengthen and improve the special relationship we have with the single superpower in the world. Of course we shall avail ourselves of its advice, but the decisions will be ours alone, those of Israel as a sovereign and independent state. We shall also take care to cultivate and strengthen our ties with the European Community. Even if we have not always seen eye to eye and have had our differences with the Europeans, we have no doubt that the road to peace will pass through Europe as well.
We shall strengthen every possible tie with Russia and the other states of the Commonwealth, with China and with every country that responds to our outstretched hand.
Mr. Speaker, Members of the Knesset, security is not only the tank, the plane, and the missile boat. Security is also, and perhaps above all, the person; the Israeli citizen. Security is a man's education; it is his home, his school, his street and neighborhood, the society that has fostered him. Security is also a man's hope. It is the peace of mind and livelihood of the immigrant from Leningrad, the roof over the head of the immigrant from Gondar in Ethiopia, the factory that employs a demobilized soldier, a young native son. It means merging into our way of life and culture; that, too, is security.
You ask how we are going to ensure it?
We are going to change the national order of priorities and the allocation of financial resources from the State budget and from funds mobilized abroad.
Preference will be given to the war on unemployment and to strengthening the economic and social systems.
Unemployment is an insidious evil. It deprives a man of his dignity. It destroys the soul of the man who cannot feed his family, for there is no greater ignominy than the shame of hunger.
We intend to increase the rate of economic growth.
We intend to create places of work for the hundreds of thousands of new immigrants and natives of this country who will enter the job market in the coming year. We shall do this by retooling the economy for open management free of administrative restrictions and superfluous Government involvement. There is too much paperwork - and not enough production.
We shall promote the sale of Government-owned firms and privatization, and we shall do so in collaboration with the workers, so that they will suffer no harm. A free world demands a free economy.
We shall invest in basic necessary projects so as to attract entrepreneurs to build enterprises. We shall allocate funds for infrastructure - transportation, electricity, water and sewage, high-tech industries, research and development. That is the Government's job.
We shall decrease the Government's involvement in the capital market and open a market for venture capital.
We shall establish a basket of social services to be provided, by law, to all citizens, covering education, health, welfare, and housing.
We want the new immigrants and our sons and daughters to find work, a livelihood, and a future in this country. We don't want Israel's main export to be our children.
Members of the Knesset, we have resolved to make the citizen our prime concern, and I want all us Members of this House to remember that the people do not serve us, we serve the people.
Chief among the services to the citizenry will be the education of our children. At the start of the coming school year, in another two months, we will already make every effort to institute a long school day in the development towns and poorer neighborhoods. We may face organizational difficulties, but we shall do our best to overcome them.
We shall ensure equality among all the streams of education, including the Arab and Druze communities.
We shall make every effort to ensure that every student in Israel is able to study, even if there isn't a penny in his pocket - or in that of his parents.
One of our prime objectives will be to strengthen the development towns. We shall give preference to helping them get back on their feet by offering incentives. We shall also try to cultivate the poorer neighborhoods in the cities by providing a neighborhood basket of services that will answer educational, health and welfare needs.
Our concern will be not for the young alone. We intend to introduce a national pension law that will cover all the participants in the economy, salaried and self-employed alike. Pension funds will be subject to Government supervision. We owe the elderly among us a life of dignity and shall be faithful to the value expressed in the supplication: "Do not abandon us in our old age."
We shall do everything possible to ensure housing for the new immigrants and to answer the needs of young couples by giving preference and assistance to demobilized soldiers. We send our young people on the most difficult and dangerous of national missions and then ignore them after they return from them safely. "More power to the IDF" also means tending to our soldiers once they have completed their army service.
The homeless, families living in overcrowded conditions, and others overburdened by their mortgages will come first in our order of priorities. Israel will be not just a state; it will also be a home.
The Government that embarks on its journey today sees the health of its citizens as one of its highest priorities. "May you enjoy a full recovery" is not just a wish for good health; it will be the right of the ailing according to a national health law. That law will establish the public funding necessary to maintain a high-level public-health system that ensures equality for all. Every citizen in Israel will benefit from health insurance through public health funds. And most important, we should all be healthy.
Members of the Knesset, it is proper to admit that for years we have erred in our treatment of Israel's Arab and Druze citizens. Today, almost 45 years after the establishment of the state, there are substantial gaps between the Jewish and Arab communities in a number of spheres. On behalf of the new Government, I see it as fitting to promise the Arab, Druze, and Bedouin population that we shall do everything possible to close those gaps. We shall try to make the great leap that will enhance the welfare of the minorities that have tied their fate to our own.
Members of the Knesset, Theodor Herzl once said: "All of men's achievements are rooted in dreams." We have dreamed and fought and created - despite all the difficulties, despite all the criticism - a safe haven for the Jewish People. This is the essence of Zionism, the dream of generations come true.
In the last years, the gates have opened up for Jews wishing to immigrate to our country, and hundreds of thousands of Jews who have come from the ends of the earth and particularly from Russia and the other republics of the Commonwealth - are rebuilding their lives among us. No one is closer to us than they are. We are obliged to show them the way, to absorb them in the spirit of Jewish solidarity.
In the past months the flow of immigrants has dwindled, and that is to our regret. The Government will act to resume and increase immigration, especially from Russia and the other members of the Commonwealth, and will continue the efforts to save Jews who suffer persecution just because they are Jews. Without all this, we will not have a return to Zion, and all of us are returnees to Zion.
In this small country we have gathered dozens of Jewish communities and cultures. It is not easy to meld them all into a single nation, and meanwhile we must foster patience and tolerance to help bring people together.
The Jewish heritage has kept the Jewish People alive through all its wanderings and dispersions, and we see it as our duty to preserve the tie between the State of Israel and the Jewish heritage. Safeguarding the unity of the people requires tolerance and the creation of conditions for the religious and the secular to live together in mutual respect. We shall see to it that all Jewish children are educated in the light of Jewish values.
The Government will refrain from any religious or anti-religious coercion and will provide for the public religious needs of the country's citizens, regardless of political affiliation.
The "special funding" will be abolished.
The Minister of Defense will appoint a team, under his auspices, to investigate and determine the criteria for exempting yeshiva students from army service, so as to prevent the abuse of the existing arrangements in this area.
1 believe that these steps, taken in full collaboration with the religious and ultra-Orthodox parties, will help mitigate the polarization of our society and bring the people of Israel closer together. Members of the Knesset, the road ahead is a long one, and there is much to be accomplished:
-We shall complete the legislation of Basic Laws in order to forge a Constitution for the State.
-We shall take the reports of the State Comptroller very seriously and wipe out every trace of corruption.
-We shall finally implement the law - already passed - for direct election of the Prime Minister and change the system of elections to the Knesset.
-We shall pay special attention to the quality of the environment and to improving roads and transportation.
Members of the Knesset, a few words to our friends in the Opposition. We are not living under any delusions. We know that we face a great task, that there is much work to be done, and that our efforts may encounter difficulties. We shall be engaged in getting things accomplished, and there can be no accomplishment without errors. We expect criticism from you, and it may be as penetrating as you like, as long as it is constructive criticism that is concerned with the future and fate of this people.
This is also an opportunity to request, Members of the Knesset, that we do everything in our power to enhance the prestige of the Knesset by comporting ourselves in a courteous and responsible manner. The people of Israel see us nightly on their television screens, and we cannot blame them if our own image is reflected in the national mirror-and we are treated accordingly. The Government is turning over a new leaf today. I suggest that we too, Members of the Knesset, turn over a new leaf with the people that have sent us here.
Members of the Knesset, we have today presented to the Knesset the basic guidelines of the new Government's policy and all the understandings relating to the formation of that Government, including the coalition agreements. These are no secrets or covert agreements and none will made in the future. Everything is on the table, out in the open, in accordance with the law.
And now, Mr. Speaker, I have the honor to present to the Knesset the Government I have formed by virtue of the mandate I received from his Excellency the president of the State. In accordance with clause 15 of Basic Law: the Government, I ask the Knesset to express its confidence in the following Government:
Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and, until the appointment of other ministers, also holding - by provision of the law - the portfolios of Religious Affairs, Labor and Social Affairs
Shulamit Aloni, Minister of Education and Culture
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Minister of Housing and Construction
Uzi Baram, Minister of Tourism
Arye Deri, Minister of the Interior
Michael Harish, Minister of Industry and Trade
David Libai, Minister of Justice
Ora Namir, Minister of Environment
Shimon Peres, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Yair Tsaban, Minister of Immigrant Absorption
Ya'akov Tsur, Minister of Agriculture
Yisrael Kessar, Minister of Transport
Amnon Rubinstein, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, and Minister of Science and Technology
Haim Ramon, Minister of Health
Avraham Shochat, Minister of Finance
Moshe Shahal, Minister of Police and Minister of Communications
Shimon Shetreet, Minister of Economics and Planning
Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Members of the Knesset, this is our declaration of intent, this is our "identity card," these are the desires that we wish to turn into reality. Everything I have said on behalf of the Government and myself has been stated in good faith and in an eagerness to set out on a new path, to stimulate, to reawaken, to create and maintain here a state that every Jew, everywhere, will consider his home and the object of his dreams. Our entire policy can be summarized by a single verse from the Book of Books: "May the Lord give his people strength, may the Lord bless His people with peace."