Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday that the nomination of an Arab minister to the government is an important and positive occasion and that the move is long overdue.
Olmert’s statement referred to the nomination of Raleb Majadele (Labor) to the post of Science, Culture, and Sports Minister by Labor chief Amir Peretz.
Despite the nomination by Peretz, Olmert did not bring the issue of Majadele to a cabinet vote. Sources close to the prime minister said that the reason Olmert did not bring the nomination to a vote is mainly because he is intending to fill all cabinet vacancies in the coming days. The sources added that if Labor wishes to fill the currently unmanned Welfare portfolio, they will have to give up the Science portfolio for Yisrael Beiteinu.
Prime Minister Olmert also referred during the meeting to the video published last week where a female Jewish settler in Hebron is seen verbally confronting a Palestinian resident using offensive language, slurs, and spitting.
“I was ashamed to see a young Jewish woman standing in front of the Palestinian woman and speaking to her as she did,” Olmert said. “I was ashamed of her aggressiveness. This was sheer provocation. I expect all those who support the settlers and who love the Land of Israel to completely disavow her because she shames this entire public. One can favor or oppose settlement but there is an unacceptable gap between this and such boorishness, condescension and contempt. I say this on behalf of the entire government.”
Olmert decided to accept the proposal by Defense Minister Amir Peretz to create a ministerial team which will formulate solutions to the problem of law enforcement in the West Bank and the need to provide the police and the security forces with significant legal tools to prevent these confrontations from happening.
One of the main problems in this area is that IDF soldiers do not have the legal law enforcement authority towards the settlers and they are very often helpless in front of blatant and severe illegal behavior by the Jewish settlers, which they can’t do anything about.
Prime Minister Olmert instructed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Peretz, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On to formulate proposals on the issue.