Reducing social rifts and economic gaps.
Raising living standards while improving the quality of life
and the environment.
Increasing the rate of economic growth, raising productivity
and improving competitiveness.
Providing equal opportunities for women.
Fully integrating minorities.
Strengthening the middle class.
Providing a safety net for the elderly and the disabled.
Strengthening the Negev and the Galilee.
Significantly reducing the number of casualties in traffic
The time has come to puncture the public illusion that the State of
Israel does not have sufficient funds to adequately take care of business. Not everything here is going to defense –
though it is true that too much is being wasted on defense in the absence of
adequate transparency and public oversight.
However, there is more than enough left over for civilian purposes.
Even after excluding defense spending, civilian public expenditure in
Israel is higher than the average for Western countries. In other words, there is no lack of money – and
for a long time now there hasn’t been a lack of money – in terms of
non-defense, civilian, expenditures that could have been utilized to prevent
the deterioration that has occurred over the past three decades in the
socio-economic realm. It is all a matter
of priorities. Furthermore, the inherent
lack of transparency in the entire budget has contributed to an irrational and
inefficient distribution of public funds.
The time has come for a thorough change of how we view this country’s
budget. The concept of “public funds”
has long since lost its meaning. We work
hard for our income and are required to hand over a large portion of it to the
state. This money is ours – we should
never forget to whom it belongs – and it is entrusted to public representatives
to be redistributed according to national, as opposed to nationalistic,
considerations rather than narrow personal and sectoral interests.
The national budget needs to be restructured from the top down,
according to the budgetary requirements derived from the new national
priorities detailed in this Work Plan:
· Allocation of funding
to all the education systems – the national, the national-religious, the Arab
and ultra-orthodox – according to identical, clear and transparent criteria,
will make it possible to channel increased assistance to the needy and reduce
the gaps. The reform proposed here (in the Education Work Plan below) will
lead to more efficient use of the education budget and will significantly
improve the system’s performance.
· Implementation of a
strategic program for increasing employment, including a change in the
incentive structure and increased investment in physical infrastructure (the
program is detailed in the following section).
· In addition, giving
budgetary priority to:
The Negev and the Galilee, rather than to areas that will
not be part of a Jewish-democratic state in the future.
Strengthening the welfare system on the basis of assistance
only to the needy.
Improved law-enforcement (discussed further in the Governance
Implementation of a comprehensive national traffic safety
program (detailed in the relevant section below).
Effective protection of the environment (detailed in the
relevant section below).
Encouraging research and development.
· Reduction of the
Reducing the number of government ministries from 22 to 10 (discussed
further in the Governance Work Plan).
Merging local authorities.
Abolishing superfluous and wasteful bureaucracy in the
Increasing efficiency, transparency and government oversight
in the military, and cutting the currently inflated defense budget by 10%.
· An uncompromising
campaign against the underground, and unreported, economy (discussed further in
the Governance Work Plan). This is an important step in the war on crime,
in augmenting the government’s tax income, and in equalizing the bearing of the
· A significant increase
in budgetary transparency, so that the public will be able to see what the
actual national priorities are – as they are reflected in actual budget
allocations – rather than having to believe declarations as to the national
· Reducing public
expenditures to enable reduction of the tax burden and the national debt. Israel’s
middle class is ladened with an extremely heavy tax burden. Of every additional
shekel that an employer spends on an employee in the sixth income decile (i.e. middle income), the
government receives approximately two-thirds and the employee is left with only
a third of that extra shekel. The tax burden affects living standards, the willingness
to work – and in some cases, the willingness to remain in Israel for those
whose skills provide them with other alternatives. Indirect taxes, such as VAT, also constitute a
heavier burden in Israel than in most Western countries. This is a regressive tax that affects
primarily the poor, who spend all of their money on consumption.
In no area is the “patchwork” method more evident than in the
government’s employment policy. The
country is long past due a strategic economic program targeted at increasing
employment and raising wages. Such a program entails:
· Restructuring the
current mix of work versus non-work incentives:
A large part of the assistance (for healthy, working-age people) should be given in the form of
work incentives. There is a need to replace non-work incentives (such as child
allowances) with work incentives (such as tax credits for care of dependents –
be they children, disabled, ill or elderly), including the introduction of a
negative income tax for those with low incomes.
The time has come to synchronize and streamline the
country’s multiple tax and aid programs.
The government has no idea regarding the total income of a large segment
of Israel’s families. In order to ascertain
who really needs state assistance and the extent of the assistance actually
given by all the public agencies, there is a need to bring order to the
following two spheres:
All family income from all sources must be combined, the
taxation system needs to be simplified considerably, and a compulsory tax
return on annual incomes instituted for every household – making each Israeli
adult legally accountable for the amount declared. These measures will make it possible to
determine who is really in need of welfare assistance. They will broaden the tax base, increase the
number of shoulders bearing the tax burden, and lighten the load on those
currently bearing it.
All public subsidies and other forms of assistance need to be
combined and to originate from one source only – and they must be distributed
according to clear, transparent criteria that are identical for all sectors and
populations in the country. Assistance
to individuals and households should be provided primarily according to
socio-economic status, state of health, etc.
A necessary condition for providing assistance to businesses is that the
social return from the support outweigh the firm’s private rate of return.
· Establishing an integrated
system of supplemental adult education, vocational training and job placement
attuned to the needs of the economy.
This new system should comprise a number of spheres, each with its own target
clientele and goals, which nevertheless complement one another. The first
sphere focuses on the providing an opportunity for upgrading basic knowledge.
The second sphere concentrates on upgrading professional skills, and the third
sphere integrates the upgraded knowledge and skills with job placement.
- “Second Chance”
Program for Supplemental Adult Education
role of the supplemental education system is to provide a general core level of
human capital for those adults who dropped out of the education system as
children, and for new immigrants who did not receive secondary education in
their country of origin – making it possible for them to improve their income-earning
ability. Because of the general nature
of these studies, they should be provided by the state. The goal is to enable
as many students as possible to complete high-school equivalency levels and
exams. Hence, participation in the
program should not be conditional upon the student’s employment situation.
Raising the basic level of knowledge of the Israeli worker is of major
importance not only to the employee but also to society as a whole. The studies
should thus be subsidized – both directly and in the form of long-term loans with
subsidized interest rates – so as to accommodate anyone who wishes to exploit
this second chance to climb back on to the educational ladder.
- Vocational Training
of employers in vocational training contributes to a raising of the rate of
employment. Colleges should be
encouraged to establish technological training centers in partnership with
employers and with government support. Participation of the business sector in this
initiative is of special importance. The centers should offer modular training
programs to technicians and practical engineers, short training courses, and other
vocational programs. The training of technicians, practical engineers and those
with other vocations should include an apprenticeship period that will provide
practical experience in a private business.
- Job Placement
job placement system in Israel must undergo fundamental change, which includes
privatization (to a certain extent, the process would appear to have begun
recently, but the intended goal is only to fulfill part of what such a system
should really provide). The state should enter into contractual relationships
with private companies for limited periods – along with supervision and
monitoring of performance and the option of withholding payment and imposing
fines should the companies fail to meet the conditions – and grant performance-related
bonuses. The job placement centers need to be established on a regional basis,
with each regional center specializing in areas that reflect the
characteristics of the local population and employers, thereby enabling
individual attention to be given as far as possible.
The role of the center will be to find, offer and recommend different
alternatives to each client: supplemental education, vocational training and/or
immediate job search. The center should accompany the client along the entire
track chosen by the individual up to the stage of finding a job and then continuing
for a defined period thereafter. The client will be able to benefit from the
professional knowledge and the experience accumulated by the center in matching
skills and preferences to current possibilities.
The placement centers will be compensated according to their rates of
success in making placements and the length of time during which the worker is
employed. Unlike the Israeli version of
the “Wisconsin Works” program that is currently being piloted, if the client
chooses the supplemental education track or the vocational training track, the
center will be rewarded according to the student’s measure of success upon
completion of each individually-structured section of the program. The center’s
compensation will be determined according to a scale constructed by a committee
of experts at the national level. The success-based
scale ensures that the center will make a serious effort to direct the client
to the most suitable track and not necessarily direct the client straight to
the placement track.
· A significant reduction
in the cumbersome bureaucratic procedures that lead to superfluous costs and
huge amounts of unnecessary red tape all along the seam running between the
public sector and the business and households sectors. The easier it will become to set up and run a
business in Israel, the faster the increase in employment rates and income
· Longer school days and
afternoon enrichment programs for children and youngsters will enable more
parents to look for work (further discussion in the Education Work Plan).
· Equal opportunities for
women and minority groups in receiving training, finding work, promotion and
wages (details in the relevant sections).
· A significant
reduction in the number of non-Israeli workers.
· Substantial upgrading of
the transportation infrastructure in order to:
Increase the accessibility of urban jobs to those residing
in the periphery.
Reduce production costs, thereby increasing the
competitiveness of Israeli businesses, which in turn will increase employment.
Reduce physical and social gaps between the different areas
of the country.
· Enact legislation
determining that anyone receiving a service is accountable for ensuring that
the employee who provides the service – be he employed directly or through an
employment agency – receives the payment and conditions to which he is entitled
· Amend the dismissal
compensation law to create symmetry between flexibility for employers and
mobility for employees.
· Enhance Israel’s
current position as one of the world’s technology leaders, thereby increasing
its attractiveness for foreign investments and raising its level of
The State of Israel is responsible not only for providing the tools and
conditions that ensure equal opportunities in employment, but also for
providing a basic social safety net for those unable to tend for themselves. The
state is obliged to:
· Ensure the regular
supply of medical services to all its residents, including – among others – adequate
nursing services, medication baskets, and hospital beds.
· Ensure that social
security payments provide respectable living standards for the elderly, the
disabled and others unable to contend in a competitive economy. To minimize the prevalence of these problems
in the future, the State must enact legislation making saving in pension plans
and disability insurance mandatory for all incomes above a specified threshold.
· Enable true equality
of opportunity in education – by increasing budgets if necessary – for all
pupils so that they can fully utilize their potential. What we won’t spend on education today we’ll
spend, with compounded interest, in the future on welfare.
Voluntary organizations play a very important role in providing aid. But even if this aid is given generously, it
does not reduce the need for a national perspective that leads to systemic
planning, budgeting and monitoring at the national level. This is one of the core issues that comprise
the realm of the government’s responsibility and accountability.
Women in Israel are not fully integrated into the labor market or into
the political and economic leadership of the country. The primary impediments
in this regard are a mix of social and religious obstacles together with pure discrimination
that prevent women from attaining their true potential. To rectify this
situation, the government must implement an integrated policy in the following
· Constant efforts
towards increasing representation of women in all the major decision-making
spheres – political, economic and managerial – in accordance with their
abilities and their share in the population.
· More efficient
enforcement of laws prohibiting discrimination.
· Initiatives within the
Education towards equality – with respect to childcare and
household chores on the one hand, and with respect to professional aspirations
and their fulfillment on the other.
Encouraging girls to study technological subjects.
Training young leadership.
· Establishing centers
to assist women in setting up and running independent businesses.
Arab women in Israel are subject to dual discrimination – as women and
as Arabs. Their rate of participation in
the labor market is extremely low, resulting not only from their low
educational level and the lack of available employment, but also because of
traditional norms that limit women’s mobility, their freedom to choose a place
of work that suits them, or even to go out to work. Providing encouragement and support for Arab
women to enter the labor force is an important vehicle for improving their
collective standing as a group and is a primary means for improving the
standard of living and reducing the high rate of poverty among Israeli Arabs.
The willingness and ability of Arab women to work is closely related to their level
A. Religion and
The Kinneret Declaration, which defines a broad core of agreement regarding
Israel’s character as a Jewish-democratic state, states:
“Israel is the home to secular, traditional and religious Jews. The growing alienation of these groups from
one another is dangerous and destructive. We, secular, traditional, and
religious Jews, each recognize the contribution of the others to the physical
and spiritual existence of the Jewish people. We believe that Jewish tradition
has an important place in the public sphere and in the public aspects of the
life of the country, but that the state must not impose religious norms on the private life of the individual. Disagreements over matters
of religion and state should be resolved through discussion, without insult and
incitement, by legal and democratic means, and out of respect for one’s
“We are one people. We share one
past and one destiny. Despite
disagreements and differences of worldview among us, we are all committed to
the continuity of the Jewish people and to ensuring the future of the State of
· The Jewish nature of
the state is measured not only by the size of the Jewish population, but also
by its link to Jewish culture and moral behavior. We are currently witnessing a widening of the
rift and mutual delegitimization between the ultra-orthodox Jewish community
and the rest of the Jewish public, with the ultra-orthodox public feeling
threatened, closing ranks and becoming more extreme. This is a dangerous process that must be
stopped before it picks up steam. There
is no room in Israeli public life for discordant tones denouncing an entire
section of the population and calling for its rejection by the rest of Israeli
· The formula for mutual
cohabitation can be found in the rule “live and let live”. Each person is endowed with the right to
freedom of religion and the right to integrate religion in everyday life as
they see fit and according to their personal world view. A basic tenet of Israel’s democracy requires
that each one of us respect the religious decisions of our fellow citizens, as
long as this does not jeopardize anyone’s basic human and civil rights.
Just as the state recognizes civil, non-religious, marriages
held beyond its borders, it should allow anyone who so wishes to have a civil
marriage within its borders. The right
of all citizens to marry legally in the country must be guaranteed, by means of
a change in the law if necessary.
The chief rabbinate should alleviate, to the extent
possible, the process required for those wishing to convert to Judaism.
The law enabling non-religious burial should be put into
practice in all parts of the country.
· As long as Israel remains
in danger, all its citizens, be they secular, religious or ultra-orthodox, must
serve their country, either doing military service (the first preference) or
civilian service to the community and the state.
Over the past two decades Israel has been blessed with over a million
new immigrants – mainly from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia – who have
decided to share their fate with us. The children of these immigrants serve in
the IDF with the children of the native-born and share the same school desks
with them. We all shoulder the tax
burden together – and it goes without saying that terrorists do not distinguish
between the countries of origin of their victims.
It is high time for this partnership to be reflected more fully in our
society. There are several areas in particular
that affect the former immigrants which require special attention on the part
of the state. These include:
· Improving the lot of
the weaker groups among the immigrants, first and foremost the pensioners and
those in need of public housing.
· Ensuring that the
status quo in religious matters does not jeopardize the immigrants’ rights (as
detailed in the section “Religion and State”).
C. The Druze
The Israeli Druze and the Jewish people are partners in a covenant
forged in blood that began before the State of Israel was established. The
Druze took upon themselves the full range of national obligations, military
service in particular, and are entitled to all the rights, from both the ideological
perspective – providing full expression to the fact that the Druze are an
integral part of the country – and from a practical perspective, with equal
distribution of the national budget to education, to public support for the
Druze towns and villages, and equality of opportunity in education, welfare and
in the labor market.
The Arab population in Israel has for many years been subject to neglect
and to deliberate discrimination on the part of state institutions with regard
to allocation of resources, investment in infrastructure, encouragement of
entrepreneurship, and integration of Arab workers in the workplace. These
institutional shortcomings do not resonate very loudly within part of the
Jewish public, some of whom view discrimination against Arabs in the employment
sphere as legitimate practice.
The employment characteristics of the Arab population clearly indicate
longstanding difficulties and are reflected in socio-economic gaps between Jews
and Arabs that are not closing. Compared
to Jews, Arabs have a lower level of education, their rate of participation in
the labor force is lower, their rate of unemployment is higher, and many of the
Arab laborers work in low-skill occupations. Their income is lower and their employment
uncertainty is higher
The starting point for any action aimed at improving the situation must
be the commitment of Israeli society (and its governing institutions) to the
principles of justice and equality for all its citizens. We need to adopt a policy based on the
· Equalizing education levels
in the Arab population with those of the Jewish population – as an essential
means of creating equal initial conditions in the labor market. The key point in this context are:
Support through special assistance programs (such as
implementation of longer school days, aid at the small group level in preparing
homework, exposure to computer-related technologies, databases in the schools and
community centers) in order to compensate for insufficient resources and to
ensure that students receive an opportunity to attain the necessary achievement
levels for entering a dynamic, competitive and modern labor market.
Expansion of employment opportunities for educated Israeli Arabs.
· Implement policies designed
to enhance development in the Arab sector, with an emphasis on
industrialization and entrepreneurship.
This includes creation of regional industrial parks shared by Jews and
Arabs (with joint management).
· In an era of high-speed
communication, it is possible to employ a low-skilled labor force – such as
typists and telephone operators – within the Arab towns, without them having to
be physically present in the plants or the head offices of the companies
employing them. That said, it is
nonetheless essential that the education and skill levels of these employees be
upgraded so as to enable them to realize more of their potential.
· Promotion and
development of tourism in Arab settlements with historic, cultural, or scenic
· Removing obstructions
to the integration of Arabs in the labor market by:
Developing occupations requiring high-level skills in Arab
Implementing a consistent policy aimed at removing
obstructions inhibiting Arab employment outside their towns and villages.
· Equality of rights and
other civil conditions also requires equality of obligations, including the
obligation to serve one’s country – exactly like the Jewish population – in the
form of military service or national civilian service.
Israel is a country that allows its first world doctors to be
overshadowed by a third world managerial culture that abandons our loved ones
to subsistence as vagabonds in hospital corridors during their weakest hours,
that deserts them with budgets that move intensive care and national medicine
baskets downward on the budget prioritization ladder, that creates large gaps
in the quality of medical equipment around the country. This is a country that, given the amount of
money that it spends on health, should have looked substantially different at
the dawn of the 21st century.
The health system is in need of general reform, which should focus on
the following goals:
· Better utilization of
· Better utilization of
the workforce engaged in providing medical services.
· Expansion of the
· Increasing the number
of hospital beds in general, and the number of beds in intensive care units in
· Upgrading the medical
equipment in peripheral areas.
In light of the rapid population growth in an area with few natural
resources, in a long and narrow country, 60% of which is desert and 40% of
which is reserved for use by the IDF (mostly in the desert region), there is an
urgent need for systemic planning of national infrastructures in areas such as:
provision of water and maintaining its quality, drainage and sewage systems,
national and municipal transportation systems, a solution to the problems of
waste management, and a long list of infrastructure-related topics that touch
on the environment.
An incredible amount of damage has already been inflicted upon Israel’s
water supplies: salination and pollution of the aquifers as well as pollution
of rivers, lakes and the sea. The consequences begin with health hazards that
have a clear affect on our quality of life – with recurring manifestations of
this, such as the deteriorating health of former (many now deceased) naval
commandos who trained in the Kishon river, the poisoning of the Maccabiah
participants who fell into the Yarkon river, carcinogenic poisons emitted from
old industrial plants that led to the closing of wells and parking lots in Tel
Aviv’s Nahalat Yitzhak neighborhood, the flow of untreated sewage from the
center of the country into the Mediterranean which pollutes the beaches and
poisons the fish, and many other examples – and ultimately end with a
tremendous economic price.
In a country in which a sizeable portion of the national output depends
on tourism, it is difficult to reconcile the contradiction between third world
environmental policies and the hope of attracting first world tourists. The air and water pollution is reflected in
substantial economic costs, and it is inconceivable that this burden be placed
upon the public’s shoulders rather than on those plants and businesses that
cause the pollution. The cost of this “externality”
– as this phenomenon is called in economics – can be calculated and imposed
directly on those who pollute. Anyone wishing to do business in Israel must
internalize environmental concerns as an integral part of the production
process in this country. Serious
enforcement and credible deterrence are indispensable for protecting the
environment, but constant education from early childhood is the most effective tool
for permanently uprooting the pollution affliction from Israeli society.
The emphasis should be placed on sustainable development alongside
environmental protection – including protection of the spectrum ranging from
areas with natural beauty to sites with historic and/or religious value and
content – with the goal of preserving these for future generations. To this end,
· Protect the
independence, professionalism and standing of the country’s planning system.
· Increase the scope of
desalination so that Israel will be entirely independent of its neighbors
regarding the supply of water. The size
of the country’s population and its rate of growth are known – which in turn
implies that the extent of current and future water needs are known.
Furthermore, the quantity of water in the subterranean reservoirs, lakes and
rivers is known, as is the amount of rain that can be expected to fall over any
given period that includes the average number of arid and rainy years. In short, it is possible to calculate with a
fair degree of precision Israel’s future water demands and supplies.
In this regard, the current intention to import water from Turkey rather
than to desalinate is problematic since importing water is both more expensive
and contradicts the objective of achieving independence in the supply of water.
A large amount of the water should be allocated to reviving Israel’s
rivers and springs.
· Investment heavily in
public transportation, particularly in environmentally friendly rail transport,
to improve mobility between the periphery and the center of the country, and
accessibility to and within the cities.
· The large majority of
the country’s population lives in the cities.
Safeguarding the urban environment and preservation of vital open areas,
requires developing and reinforcing existing cities and towns.
· Preserve agriculture
and agricultural areas, which play an important role in protecting the
environment and constitute the “green lungs” of Israel.
· Industrial parks and business
centers are an important source of income for local authorities. These should be concentrated on a regional
basis in order to serve several districts simultaneously and situated close to
the cities containing most of the workforce.
New laws need to be passed in order to enable an equitable distribution
of income from these business areas to the neighboring districts in a way that
will make the areas economically feasible and financially attractive for all
· Invest in education to
raise awareness and develop environmental leadership among the public in
general and the youth in particular.
· Design and implement a
comprehensive energy plan for the country that blends efficiency with the utilization
of environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources.
· Adopt a clear and firm
environmental policy. Implement progressive standards regarding the various
environmental issues, and allocate appropriate resources to public relations, education,
monitoring, and enforcement of environmental laws and planning.
· Play an active role in
preventing and minimizing regional and global environmental hazards while
adopting and implementing international agreements for protection of the
Keeping Israel clean and beautiful must become the national motto. Our national consciousness must internalize
that this not simply an issue of esthetics but one of national health –
literally and figuratively.
Since 1990, approximately 500 people have been killed each year on
Israel’s roads. In a country with less
than 7 million people, there have been over 7,000 deaths during the years
1990-2003. During these years, 542,000 people
were injured, 48,000 of them seriously.
The time has come for a major change in the way that we deal with the
prevention of traffic accidents. The
prime minister and the entire cabinet need to become personally responsible for
the war on traffic accidents and must be held publicly accountable for the
results. This responsibility will be expressed in:
· Announcement of measurable
multi-year goals together with a public commitment by the prime minister to
achieve these goals and to provide fully transparent ongoing reports on these
· Establishment of a
central authority – comprised of renowned professionals – which will coordinate
the inter-ministerial activity, authorize the utilization of budgets and be
responsible for setting standards.
· Adoption of a
multi-year national plan anchored in law.
Among its primary objectives:
Construction of a much safer road infrastructure that takes
into account human engineering considerations as reflected in clear road signs
and markings, safe highway curves, sufficient vantage ranges at intersections,
wider shoulders for incapacitated vehicles, physical barriers between opposing
traffic lanes and illumination of dangerous roads and intersections.
Defensive driving courses – with state-of-the art material –
must become part of the core curriculum in all high schools. Such courses must be compulsory for all
adults wishing to obtain a driver’s license and for repeat traffic offenders.
Utilization of state-of-the-art technology for enforcement
and deterrence, particularly with regard to the type offences linked with
serious accidents rather than the current practice of focusing on offences that
are easy to detect but which contribute little to accidents.
Determination of mandatory standards for advanced safety
systems used by commercial fleets and public vehicles.
Formulation of a uniform judicial policy for traffic courts
to reduce the considerable variance in sentencing for identical offences.