Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks to the future
Photo: Mati Almaliach
Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Interior Minister Eli Yishai calls for inquiry committee
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov

Cabinet meets in Tirat Carmel; NIS 60M allotted for Carmel restoration

Special government meeting held on foothills of Carmel, ministers reject call to launch immediate investigation into failures that lead to devastating fire. Minister Aharonovitch announces 'we are at final hurdle' while Lieberman heaps praises…on himself

As firefighters continue their efforts to contain the last major breakouts in the Carmel fire, the government met for its weekly meeting Sunday morning, but not in Jerusalem, instead they chose to meet in Tirat Carmel. The Finance Ministry will allocate NIS 60 million ($16,538,000) for the immediate restoration of the infrastructure and local authorities hurt by the Carmel blaze.


During the meeting Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch expressed his optimism over the amount of time it would take to put out fire and said "we are at the final hurdle". Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said that his ministry would focus on social rehabilitation efforts. "The government has given the finance minister the task of completing a restoration plan within seven days," he added.


Before he went in to the meeting, Interior Minister Eli Yishai who has, for the last few days, been a target for criticism, said that "an inquiry committee will examine the recent events and find the true guilty parties". And yet, when asked if Israel's firefighters were equipped to carry out their duties in wartime he answered in the negative.


Cabinet meets in Tirat Carmel (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)


In contrast, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said: "I don't intend to play the blame game and am against the establishment of an inquiry committee as it only examines things retroactively. A revision committee is what is needed in order to examine the failures; I am sure there are many that need to be reviewed."



Misezhnikov called on ministers to "announce the Carmel as a disaster area so that compensation can be paid to those hurt by the events as soon as possible and so that the peripheral damages to rural bed and breakfasts and the agriculture in the area can be estimated. The public must know that it is not alone and the Finance ministry must allocate funds."


His fellow party member, Minister Uzi Landau agreed and noted that "the issues must be examined and reviewed. It would seem that guilty parties will be found. Yet in spite of that, I'm against the wave of people calling for an inquiry committee."


Culture Minister Limor Livnat also said that "the calls of accusations are premature. A natural disaster of an incredible scale has occurred here, now we need to stop, think and examine. There is no doubt that major oversights and failures occurred, but we cannot blame a government which has only been in power for a year and a half. We should wait and be cautious before throwing accusations at one person or another."


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman chose to heap praises – on himself and his office. "Now is the time to think things over. The Foreign Ministry operates in an exceptional manner and we are in contact with everyone involved. Besides the ministers who talk, the ministry work is grueling."


When asked whether the aid sent by Turkey to help with the fire extinguishing efforts would lead to a thawing in relations, two days after Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan made it crystal clear that this wasn't the case, Lieberman responded in kind. "The two issues shouldn't be mixed", said the foreign minister. "Political relations are political relations and offering aid in these situations is the natural thing to do. Israel helped Turkey in times of crisis too."


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting, "We need to establish aerial firefighting capabilities, but this will not always relieve us of the need to seek international assistance.


"It must be understood that large forest fires are completely different than regular fires, and the only way to deal with them is to incorporate local and international aerial teams. This is what we have done and it has yielded results," the prime minister added.



פרסום ראשון: 12.05.10, 12:31
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