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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Today’s Special Cabinet Meeting in Tirat Hacarmel

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of
the special Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 5.12.10, in Tirat Hacarmel:

“First, I would like to say that our hearts go out to the families who are
laying to rest their loved ones. The entire nation identifies with your
pain and with the heroism of those who perished. Today, the Cabinet is
meeting in Tirat Hacarmel in order to discuss providing assistance to the
citizens who were evacuated from their homes and whose homes were destroyed
in the massive wildfire. We must help the evacuees, rebuild their homes and
rehabilitate the infrastructures and do so as quickly as possible. I spoke
with the ministers before the meeting and it is important to say this here
and now: I do not want delays. I do not want bureaucracy. I want processes
to be shortened. I want quick solutions. I want all of the people – within
days – to be able to return to their homes or to alternative housing, until
the reconstruction work is finished.

Today, we will also launch the action that will lead to a plan to
rehabilitate the Carmel forests. On this issue, I would like to thank the
Environmental Protection Ministry, the Nature and Parks Authority, and the
Jewish National Fund. I know that you are doing much on this matter,
especially now. We are still in the midst of a massive forest fire. The
firefighters are doing holy work but it must be understood that this kind of
wildfire can only be defeated and extinguished from the air. On this we
have been working day and night. We have mobilized over 30 aircraft from
the nations of the world. Today, a gigantic “Supertanker” plane that we
rented from an American company is due to go into action. I believe that
with these tools, it will be possible to contain and extinguish the fire.

It must be understood that massive forest fires are fundamentally different
from routine fires. The only way to deal with these wildfires is to
integrate not only ground forces but aerial forces as well, local and
international alike. Thus the major powers have acted. In a massive
wildfire in California a few years ago, the US received assistance from
eight countries; it neither hesitated nor was ashamed to request this
assistance, including from countries from which we have made similar
requests. In last summer’s massive wildfire in Russia, Russia neither
hesitated nor was ashamed to request assistance from Ukraine and from other
countries. We also did not hesitate, nor were we ashamed, in requesting
such assistance. This is what we did and it has led to results. We will
take control of, contain and – in the end – extinguish the fire.

An additional subject is the establishment of a local aerial firefighting
force. Even if we had such a force, and we are working on it, it will not
always free us of the need to mobilize international support, but it would
give us the possibility of bringing an aerial ‘cup of water’ to fires.

The issue of closing the gaps in the conventional, ground-based, not aerial,
firefighting network is an important issue. The Government has begun to
deal with this issue, which has demanded a solution for 62 years. We have
started to deal with it. We have added budgets. We are promoting changes
but this issue has always been separate from that of massive brushfires.

I would like to take this opportunity to again thank the firefighters,
police, soldiers, MDA and ZAKA personnel, the municipality employees, the
voluntary organizations and Israelis who have shown exemplary conduct.
There has been a general mobilization of the entire nation in a display of
mutual responsibility at this crucial time.

I would like to also take this opportunity to thank the heads of state and
government that have extended important assistance to the State of Israel at
this time. I would like to thank Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and the
people at his ministry, as well as National Security Council Chairman Uzi
Arad and his people, for working day and night to create links, clarify the
information and put me and the Government in contact with these people so
that they could help us put out the Carmel fire.”

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