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PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting - 14.02.16
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PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting - 14.02.16

14 February 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Sunday, 14 February 2016), made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

"Last night, Avigdor "Yanush" Ben-Gal, an Israeli hero, passed away. Yanush was a child Holocaust survivor from Poland who grew up to became an IDF Major-General. As commander of the 7th Brigade in the Yom Kippur War, he – along with his brave soldiers – blocked the Syrian attack on the Golan Heights and saved the State of Israel. Three weeks later Yanush and his soldiers were at the gates of Damascus. I knew him as an extraordinarily inspirational and level-headed commander; he was courageous, wise and unpretentious. Even though he was aware of his uniqueness as a commander, he was not arrogant. He knew how to give precise orders on the battlefield. I knew him after the war and after my brother fell because they fought together, shoulder-to-shoulder, on the Golan Heights and afterwards when my brother served on the Golan Heights. This personal connection strengthened over the years. When Yanush fell gravely ill he showed the same courage and quiet heroism. He was an exemplary human being. The Jewish People have lost one of its greatest fighters. May his memory be blessed.

Israel and the European Union have agreed to put relations between us back on track. In the conversation I had over the weekend with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, I heard from her that the EU is opposed to any boycott of Israel, and about their action regarding product labeling, she defined it as non-binding and said that it does not reflect their position regarding the final borders of the State of Israel, which can be determined – this is what she said – only in direct negotiations between the sides.

Israel, as a representative of democratic values, is entitled to receive support from Europe and not just criticism, and I think that this step is welcome. Of course, this is not to say that there will not be friction. There are things that we do not agree on. Neither is this to say that there will not be friction with specific countries within the EU, just as there are countries, more than a few, that also support our position. But the fact that the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has come out strongly against BDS and against economic sanctions against Israel, is – of course – a step in the right direction.

Also, you have certainly heard reports to the effect that US Vice President Joe Biden is considering coming to Israel in the coming days. His advance team will arrive today. A date for the visit has yet to be determined, but it is clear that Vice President Biden is a welcome guest in Israel anytime he decides to come here."