Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home was founded in 1999. From the day it was established, Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home was a different kind of party; non-conformist, courageous, agenda-setting and ground breaking in the realm of political thought, bringing to the social, diplomatic and political arena new and revolutionary ideas.
Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home believes in leadership that openly expresses ideas while also actively promoting their application. Amongst the many initiatives that the party has taken the lead on, some that stand out are the idea of an “exchange of populated territories”, the principle of “No Citizenship without Allegiance”, changing the system of governance and reforming the conversion and marriage system. Recently, the party unveiled its revolutionary plan for a comprehensive regional settlement. This plan is the best alternative to the old, failed approaches of he Oslo Process on the one hand and preserving the status quo on the other.
Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home representatives who have served over the years in the Israeli government have many accomplishments in the advancement of foreign policy, security, social policy, economic policy, immigration and absorption policy, personal safety and many other matters.
While Avigdor Liberman was Minister of National Infrastructure beginning in 2001, he worked to extract the Israeli water sector from a state of emergency. He launched projects for the desalinization and purification of water contributing to Israel becoming a prominent global expert in the field and helped the natural gas market create conditions for the development of natural gas in Israel and the establishment of a competitive energy market amongst his many other accomplishments.
In the Ministry of Transportation, where he served as minister starting in 2003, Minister Liberman worked to privatize El Al and the public transportation lines; introduced structural changes in the sea ports by making the Port Authority into independent port companies. He also made Israel Railways and the Public Works Department government companies, developed Israel Railways helping to connect the center of the country to the periphery and completed the Ben Gurion Airport 2000 project that had been frozen before he took the position. For his many activities in the Ministry of Transportation, Minister Liberman received the Prime Minister’s Award for Quality and Excellence in the Creation of a Supportive and Productive Business Environment.
In the year 2009, when he took the job as Foreign Minister, Minister Liberman oversaw a review of Israeli foreign policy in light of the changing regional and global reality. This was in conjunction with large scale diplomatic activities in different arenas for the improvement of the State of Israel’s image and standing in two ways:
1. Building new coalitions of supportive nations throughout the world and the formation of a “moral majority” of democratic states for votes in international institutions.
2. Developing new directions for Israeli foreign policy by investing large amounts of resources for the development and the expansion of relations with additional nations throughout the world by way of economic and political cooperation as well as the increase of foreign aid.
These actions brought about diplomatic achievements; the improvement of the State of Israel’s standing in the world and Israel’s acceptance as a member of international organizations such as the WEOG, CERN and the OECD leading to economic, trade and scientific cooperation agreements as well as to significant contributions to the Israeli economy.
Among many foreign policy achievements were:
- Israel was accepted as an observer state in the Pacific Alliance;
- successfully thwarted and prevented flotillas and air convoys of activists to Gaza;
- successfully lobbying for the military branch of Hezbollah to be placed on the EU’s list of designated terrorist organizations;
- the conclusions of the Palmer Report on the Mavi Marmara incident, which accepted the Israeli position and which established that Israel acted appropriately;
- the retraction of Judge Goldstone from his pronouncements against Israel in his report;
- the decision of the Dutch parliament to recognize the IHH as a terror organization;
- the repealing of the British Law that allowed bringing senior Israeli officials to court;
- the decision of the Australian Parliament that protests and boycotts against Israeli businesses are considered a criminal offense;
- the withdrawal of most western countries from the Second Durban Conference;
- the adoption, with an unprecedented majority of 127 countries in the United Nations, of the Israeli draft resolution on the topic of “development initiatives” (the essential meaning of this resolution was a victory over the Arab League);
- placing the issue of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries on the international agenda;
- the failure of the Palestinian attempt for recognition of a Palestinian state in the UN Security Council (twice in three years thanks to a concerted effort and the diplomatic connections that Minister Liberman developed with African and Eastern and Central European countries).
At the instruction of Minister Liberman, new Israeli consulates were opened in Munich, Sao Paolo, St. Petersburg, Wellington, Accra, Guangzhou, Ashgabat, Asuncion, Bangalore, Kinshasa and at the OECD.
During the terms of Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home Ministers Uzi Landau and Stas Misenznikov in the Ministry of Tourism, a mutual agreement for the cancellation of the visa requirement with Russia and Ukraine was signed. These processes brought about a significant increase in the number of tourists who come from these countries (double the amount from Ukraine and four times the amount from Russia as compared to before the cancellation).
Among many other tourism achievements were:
- the government decision to transfer 491 million NIS for the aid and rehabilitation of the tourism industry that was damaged during Operation Protective Edge;
- the decision that prevented the laying off of thousands of industrial workers strengthening the tourism industry;
- the establishment of funds for monetary aid and support of Israeli tourist cities and the funding of 30% of the costs for the building of new hotels and renovations of existing hotels;
- providing budgets for tourist initiatives in Druze towns, including the establishment of Bed and Breakfasts and support for other tourist enterprises through consultations, guidance and planning and funding assistance;
- consistently breaking records for the number of tourists who entered Israel every year, providing a massive boost to the Israeli economy.
In the Ministry of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitch promoted the “City without Violence” Project in more than 160 cities bringing about a significant reduction in instances of violence; a municipal policing project for the reinforcement of citizens’ personal security, which granted municipal inspectors policing authority and the enactment of the Israel Fire and Rescue Services as part of a comprehensive reform to the firefighting services in Israel. One of the central changes in this law was the shift from the decentralized model of municipal associations to the establishment of a national authority that operated as an authorized body of the Ministry of Internal Security.
Minister Sofa Landver, as Minister of Immigration and Absorption, introduced and promoted different projects. Amongst them:
- community based absorption;
- doubling the monthly rental stipend for new immigrants;
- attracting and absorbing immigrant scientists and doctors;
- a plan for the encouragement of immigration from France with the Jewish Agency;
- a special plan for the encouragement of immigration from Ukraine and the reinforcement of the fund for refugees for clothing and other necessary items;
- special assistance for immigrants from Venezuela;
- forming a governmental policy for a better integration of the Israeli-Ethiopian community into Israeli society;
- operating a leveraged loan fund for the opening and expansion of businesses belonging to immigrants and returning residents;
- the government decision to compensate ‘Refuseniks’ who lost their jobs with a yearly voucher service of 7,200 NIS;
- increasing the grant to veterans of World War II from 25% to 35% of the national average wage;
- adding Prisoners of Zion (together with the survivors of Chernobyl) to the national program for Holocaust survivors and the government decision on the matter of local conversions that granted authority to municipal rabbis in the field of conversion.
2014 saw the highest level of immigration in a decade with the arrival of about 26,500 new immigrants from around the world, and was responsible for the bringing home of tens of thousands of Israelis, reversing the so-called “brain drain”.
In the Ministry of Agriculture, Minister Yair Shamir led the way on the government decision for the development and staffing of 750 new agricultural areas in the Golan Heights; an assistance plan for the towns of the south and around Gaza, including the increase of water, adding foreign workers and land rehabilitation; support for newly discharged soldiers and students in agriculture; the first pilot for changing indirect support to direct support for beef cattle farmers; an outline for the reduction of tariffs in the dairy market (a partial exemption from tariffs for the import of leading products); encouraging farmers to organize for marketing and branding; acquiring economic inputs and concentrated exports; increasing the efficiency and reducing the budget of the production councils and allocating resources for helping with agriculture and its development in the Druze sector.
The members of the Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home faction in the Knesset also contributed greatly over the years to Israeli society through legislation, initiatives and bringing different issues to the public agenda. Below are just some of the issues promoted by Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home:
Governance Law – One of the central issues promoted by Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home from its founding is the matter of improving governance. The ability to govern is one of the foundations and basic needs of a strong and stable democracy. A bill relating to this issue was one of the first bills submitted in the first Knesset that Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home was elected to in 1999.
Due to the broken government structure, the state runs like a business with too many directors. A company like this cannot succeed. We see the result of this in there having been 33 governments over the course of the 66 years of the state’s existence and only one government, that of Golda Meir, finished its term and only because of the Yom Kippur War, which took place at that time.
There is no doubt that such a situation, when the average term of every government is two years, does not allow for the advancement of processes and improvements for the benefit of the public. Therefore, in the way that the government and the Knesset works today, the state is not being run properly. Therefore, there is a need for a complete separation of powers. The government must govern and the Knesset must legislate.
In the last government we succeeded in changing important components related to governance and legislating laws that raised the electoral threshold from 2% to 3.25% while also limiting the number of ministers to 18 and the number of deputy ministers to four and setting procedures for Knesset work in order to allow the government to govern and the Knesset to oversee without bothering one another. Similarly, though the legislation is not yet complete, we passed a resolution in the central party committee which dictates that in the next government Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home ministers will quit the Knesset and will dedicate their time only to taking care of their ministries, while the members of Knesset will fill their obligations as elected officials and will engage only in their parliamentary work.
These changes and laws will allow the next government to work, to make decisions and not to spend all its time maintaining a coalition and with compromises that do not allow it to lead. However, there are more components that need to be added in order to fix the situation. Therefore, Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home will continue to work in order to ensure that the Prime Minister is elected for four years during which he or she will have the opportunity to complete and implement their plans after which the public can judge.
The Student Rights Law anchors the rights of students who study in institutions of higher learning, recognized by the Council for Higher Learning (including academic preparatory programs) within the framework of the organizations, teacher training colleges and institutions for training engineers and technicians under the supervision of the Ministry of Economics.
The “Shai Dromi” Law (amendment to the Penal Code), which states that “A person will not be criminally responsible for an act that required immediate action to repel someone who broke into or entered a place of residence, business or a fenced off farm, whether belonging to the person or someone else, with the intention of committing a crime, or someone who is attempting to break into or enter the above places.”
The Civil Marriage for those without Religion Bill, which allows for a couple without a religion to marry and register in the Non-Religion Matrimonial Partnerships Register.
The “Nakba” Law that allows the Minister of Finance to reduce the budget of agencies that deny the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, incite racism, violence or terror, support armed struggle or acts of terror of an enemy state or of a terrorist organization against Israel, mark Independence Day or the day of the establishment of the state as a day of mourning, or commit acts of vandalism or contempt which harm the honor of the state flag or other state symbols.
The Broadcast Authority Law that grants an exemption from television fees to lone soldiers and senior citizens.
The Absorption of Newly Discharged Soldiers Law which establishes that combat soldiers will receive a discharge grant of 20,000 NIS. Similarly, someone who served in the armed or civil service will receive an increased discharge grant in accordance with the amount set by the law.
The Tzohar Law (amendment to the Marriage and Divorce Ordinance on the matter of Registration Areas for the Marriage of a Couple), which establishes that a person is able to register for marriage at any rabbinate in Israel and not just the one of their place of residence. This will make it easier for young couples to register for marriage and will save them precious time and unnecessary beaurocracy.
The Powers for the Sake of Protecting Public Safety Act (amendment – criminal past) that gives a second chance to minors who have a criminal record who were rehabilitated and who served as combat soldiers in the IDF to work, amongst other things, in security.
Tenants’ Rights in Public Housing Bill (amendment – real help for paying rent) (passed its first reading in the Knesset on 9/12/2014) that obligates the state to give rent assistance based on the real prices of the market so that anyone who is eligible for public housing, but cannot find an apartment, will receive a real solution.
In addition to all this, without excessive or pompous declarations, Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home has bolstered women, who make up a large percentage of its Knesset list and who have been appointed by Minister Liberman to senior positions in the diplomatic services and to different ministries. Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home has done the same for other sectors of the population (such as the first Ethiopian ambassador) and minorities. The only Druze MK in the last Knesset was from Yisrael Beytenu – Israel Our Home and Druze and other minorities who are loyal to the country were appointed as ambassadors and to other positions in the diplomatic services.
So too in the next Knesset we will continue to act, to legislate and to perform because while there are parties that love to spout empty slogans, we act!