Times of Israel
In its first order of business, the new Israeli cabinet voted Sunday to establish a state commission of inquiry into the deadly crush at Mount Meron in April, which killed 45 people in Israel’s worst peacetime disaster.
Heading his first cabinet meeting since being sworn in last week, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the government would do everything “to prevent unnecessary loss of life.”
The proposal, submitted by Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, was approved unanimously.
The families of the victims of the disaster welcomed the announcement, saying it would prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future.
“This is a very important decision,” the forum representing bereaved families said in a statement.
“Although it will not bring back our loved ones, at least we will be able to ensure another disaster does not occur,” the statement read.
Bennett said his coalition was aiming to act differently from the last one, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and understood the need for “mutual trust” between its ministers.
“Due to the character of the government and the range of its members, the key to our success is trust, mutual trust,” he told the 27 ministers of the government at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “The way to increase trust is that when there are misunderstandings, simply pick up the phone and call each other and resolve things quietly, without drama.”
The new government, which won confirmation by the Knesset last week with a razor-thin majority of 60-59 voters in the 120-seat parliament, brings together an unprecedented eight parties from across the political spectrum into the coalition.
“We have come here to serve the people. All ministers share in this understanding: We are not the bosses of the citizens of Israel, we work for the citizens of Israel. This is the spirit that prevails among all members of the government,” Bennett said, adding that the new ministers were determined to make the government work “for the benefit of the public.”
Referring to his coalition of divergent lawmakers, Bennett said, “Now is the time for unity and unity is in itself a critical goal.”
Referring to the state commission of inquiry into the Meron disaster, Bennett said: “As we promised, we are submitting for government approval the proposal of my friends, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, to establish a state commission of inquiry into the Mount Meron disaster. Forty-five people lost their lives in that awful disaster and the responsibility for learning the lessons and preventing the next disaster is on our shoulders.”
Bennett added: ” A commission cannot bring back those who have perished but the government can do everything to prevent unnecessary loss of life in the future.”
“Each of the ministers has already started working. I got to talk to each of you in the last few days,” he said. “The overall transition was smooth and good, and the ministers are full of desire to move forward.”