Platform

Our platform promotes the right of all Israelis to live with dignity, security, prosperity and freedom 

תוכן אקורדיון

Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East. Our military, economic and democratic power has no competitors within a thousand kilometer radius from our border. However, even after 70 years of independence, some of our neighbors do not recognize our right to exist. Our immediate as well as more distant surroundings pose complex security challenges. First and foremost is the aggression of Iran, a regional power that openly declares its intention to destroy Israel. Iran is behind the threat on our borders, arming Hezbollah with hundreds of thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at Israeli cities, and financing terrorist activities by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Iran has not yet abandoned its nuclear program, which, if implemented, could pose an unprecedented existential threat to Israel.

 The threat is no longer limited to large, regular armies on our borders; the security challenge is becoming more complex. The missile and rocket threat is an unprecedented danger to the Israeli home front and we face terrorism within our borders. While its military capabilities are relatively small compared with the IDF, Hamas succeeds in challenging us and embittering the lives of the residents of the south. The enemy uses the civilian population as a human shield and tries to make a large part of our military power redundant. The IDF and other security bodies face a constant need to adapt to this new reality, in order to ensure our security in a more difficult scenario than that experienced in the past.

Above all, Israel lacks a proactive political leadership that will seize opportunities and change the situation in the region and within our borders. Despite the IDF's successful campaign against the buildup of Hezbollah, which is the most powerful force in Lebanon today, and against Iran's entrenchment in Syria. Israel does not meaningfully impact the way Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani are shaping a threatening new reality beyond our northern border.

At the same time, another situation is forming between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River that is liable to threaten the vision on which Israel was founded: a Jewish and democratic state; a national home for the Jewish people in the only place in the world where it can exist; an enlightened, progressive and democratic nation whose young people are excited to live in it because, for them, it is the best place in the world.

We have a great friend in the White House, but Israel is no longer above partisanship in American politics. The outgoing government's policies on religion and state at home have created a rift between Israel and American Jewry. Israel’s relationship with American Jewry specifically, and world Jewry more generally, is a component of our national security.

Blue and White believes that maintaining the strength of the IDF and security forces must be accompanied by diplomacy. Many countries in the region, which aspire to stability and are threatened by the radical Islam of Tehran and ISIS, now have an important common interest with us. From Morocco to the Persian Gulf, from Riyadh to Cairo and Amman, these countries are ready to form a different Middle East along with us: a Middle East that will curb Iran’s aggression and work to end the destructive influence of radical Islam.

Israel, the strongest force in the region, must lead – As part of the security concept which states that power depends on the control of processes, we will shape a new reality that will ensure the Jewish majority in Israel and the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. We will strengthen the settlement blocs and allow normal life wherever Israelis reside. The Jordan Valley will be the eastern security border of Israel. We will facilitate accelerated economic development in the Palestinian Authority territories and will maintain an open horizon for political settlement in the future. A united Jerusalem will be the eternal capital of Israel. In light of these principles, we will examine President Trump's peace plan when it is presented.

There will not be another disengagement – A unilateral move leads the enemy to the conclusion that violent resistance has overwhelmed us. We will not repeat this mistake. Any historic political decision will be approved by a special majority in the Knesset or brought to the people in a national referendum.

We will initiate a regional conference with the stability-seeking Arab countries and deepen the process of separation from the Palestinians while maintaining an uncompromising commitment to Israel’s security interests and freedom of action for the IDF everywhere.

This regional conference will also discuss an equally important issue: Israel's status as a leading force in the region with partners who share our interests. There will no longer be a situation in which a nuclear agreement with Iran or the situation in Syria will be discussed without these partners, and Israel at the forefront, presenting and securing their interests.

We will never allow an existential threat to the State of Israel – The US withdrawal from the Middle East, which began during the previous administration and is continuing today, is dangerous for Israel and its partners and we must present President Trump with the real deal of the century: a vision for the Middle East led and shaped by US allies – not by the radical axis. Only in this way can we bring back our powerful friend to the region and ensure that Israel’s interests are promoted everywhere.

Even in the struggle against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, Israel will initiate and not be reactive – In Gaza, we must take a dual approach: on the one hand, a powerful response to any provocations and violence targeting our territory and on the other, a coordinated move with regional actors that will present the residents of Gaza with the possibility of a better life. The first rule in the war on terror is to create a wedge between the population and the terrorist organization living in its midst, and this will only happen if a proactive policy is implemented on both the military and diplomatic-economic levels. This is not a contradiction, but quite the opposite: the two sides complement each other.

The Golan Heights are an inseparable part of the State of Israel, and this issue is not negotiable. We will continue to develop and settle the area – 

On the northern front, we will continue the campaign against Iran's entrenchment and against the bolstering of Hezbollah, and prepare the IDF for the possibility of another military campaign. The ongoing and successful action against Iran and Hezbollah will be intensified and accompanied by a diplomatic process vis-à-vis Russia to fulfill Israel's objective to drive Iran and its proxies out of Syria.

Blue and White will engage in a serious and ongoing effort to bring home the POWs and MIAs, based on our commitment to their families and to Israeli society as a whole.

In accordance with the national security concept, Israel must strengthen foreign relations everywhere in the world. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be unified and strengthened and its status as the headquarters and implementation body for foreign policy and public diplomacy will be enshrined by law. Israel is a superpower of innovation revered by the world; we will use this fact for a new diplomatic momentum. We will increase investment in assistance to developing countries as part of creating a foundation for long-term relations.

We will preserve our strategic cooperation and special relationship with the United States, return to the days when support of Israel was a bipartisan issue in American politics and deepen our political and economic relations with Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.

We will heal the wounds that the current government has created in our relations with world Jewry, especially in the US. Israel is the national home of all Jewish people. An Israeli government that takes into account the impact of its decisions on world Jewry is the key to strengthening this vital connection.

Government corruption has become a strategic threat to Israeli society and democracy. It undermines the public's trust in government institutions and in the democratic system, and undermines equality of opportunity, social cohesion, the quality of life for the country's citizens and economic growth.

 For many years, an unfair game has been played in Israel that served interest groups, the rich and the unions. In this game, billions of shekels were transferred from hand to hand without transparency. Associates of those in government were appointed to run government companies on the basis of their connections rather than their skills.

Blue and White is committed to integrity, to the rule of law, to fairness and to a systematic and uncompromising fight against government corruption. This commitment is expressed first and foremost by personal example: Blue and White candidates for the Knesset, government institutions and any other public role will be women and men who are beyond reproach, and who view serving in government as a mission that involves public commitment.

Limiting the tenure of the prime minister – We will amend the Basic Law so that a prime minister cannot serve in office for more than eight consecutive years or more than three terms (whichever is the shorter).

We will work to adopt the principles of the public committee headed by former President of the Supreme Court, Justice Meir Shamgar, to formulate ethical rules for members of the government and to promote their application to Knesset members and heads of local authorities. In accordance with these rules, in the event that the legal authorities are authorized to file a formal indictment attributing criminal acts to a public official, such a person shall be obliged to suspend themselves or to resign from their position. The rules will also stipulate that a public figure questioned by the police will not refrain from answering the investigator's questions and will not be able to use the right to remain silent. If they choose to use the right to remain silent, they will be forced to resign.  

We will abolish the "Recommendations Law" (Amendment 81 to the Criminal Procedure Law). This law violates criminal procedure and the work of the State Attorney’s Office and the police.

We will pass the Moral Turpitude Bill, which states that an individual convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude will not be able to serve as a mayor, Knesset member, minister or prime minister in Israel.

We will define breach of trust as an offense under the law – The crime of breach of trust and its boundaries have not yet been defined by law. The lack of an explicit definition of this law has resulted in a large "gray area". Therefore, politicians who behaved inappropriately have been able to evade responsibility and ignore the ethical and moral implications arising from these acts. We will act to define the offense of breach of trust in the law and we will ensure that the offense includes actions carried out despite a conflict of interest; receiving benefits in a fraudulent manner; the deliberate deception of a public official or concealment of information from a public official in order to influence their discretion and decisions; improper use of inside information to promote personal interests and actions; or abstention from actions contrary to the public interest.

We will increase government transparency – Government transparency at all levels is a necessary check against corruption, conflicts of interest and misuse of public resources. A fundamental condition for the implementation of the principle of transparency is the proactive disclosure of information held by government authorities, subject to the protection of rights and other values, such as the right to privacy and the security interests of the state. Transparency is not limited solely to providing information as a result of a request, but requires that all information regarding government authorities be organized and accessible.

 We will enforce the obligation of public tenders for government jobs and procurement – Transparency in appointments and procurement ensures equal opportunities as well as increased efficiency and cost reduction. In recent years, the decentralization of powers for exemption from tenders has led to about 80% of government contracts being executed without a tender. We will re-examine the exemption procedures, change the current list of Mandatory Tenders Regulations and reduce the exceptions to only a limited number of cases. We will also enact laws that will increase the ability of small and medium-sized businesses to compete for government tenders, and will require large companies that win a large government tender to guarantee a certain portion of the outsourcing contract go to small and medium-sized businesses.

We will enact the Public Service Law – This law will ensure that public servants serve only the public good and will not be exposed to the pressures and temptations of pressure groups and those with extraneous considerations. We will ensure that political appointments are not expanded and define necessary conditions for the appointment of senior political appointees.

We will transparently allocate designated budgets, since budgetary funding directly allocated to recipients for political support is fertile ground for corruption. We will adopt procedures that will establish full transparency and allocation according to clear criteria, including legally approved support tests. Exceptions to these will only be possible in special cases that are legally approved and subject to a declaration of a lack of conflict of interest and clear justification.

We will pass a law to approve the use of coalition funds – The law will abolish the phenomenon of MKs who condition their votes on receiving political funds, and will regulate the ways in which agreements between coalition factions are signed. Money transfers to unregulated entities that do not operate transparently will be prohibited, and the Ministry of Finance will not be permitted to agree to budgetary transfers to specific institutions in return for the approval of the state budget or the promotion of an initiative on behalf of the Ministry of Finance in a Knesset committee.

We will regulate the activity of lobbyists in the Knesset and in government – We will tighten the rules on the subject of ​​lobbying, limit the opportunities of direct access of the wealthy to decision makers and increase enforcement in this area. We will expand the duty of proper disclosure, so that lobbyists will be required to identify the specific issue for which they operate, and not only the identity of their clients.

Public bodies will be prohibited from using lobbyists to obtain public funds. Supervision, enforcement and punishment will be increased with respect to violations of the law and the regulations by registered and unregistered lobbyists. Transparency will be required for Knesset members in all matters relating to their relationships with lobbyists and representatives of outside interests. We will require transparency in all matters relating to any information or documents that have been transferred to them as part of the legislative processes or to help them formulate their positions, and in particular in relation to bills drafted for them by external actors. The duties imposed on members of the Knesset will be determined by a decision of the Knesset Ethics Committee. We will apply the rules of transparency to lobbyists outside the Knesset (for example, in their appeal to government ministries and local authorities) and we will fight against the phenomenon of "messengers" operating in the corridors of government without any regulation.

We will strengthen protection for whistleblowers – Whistleblowers exposing corruption will enjoy full confidentiality and institutional protection provided by the internal auditor of the relevant government ministry. In the event that a whistleblower is harmed as a result of their actions, they will be able to receive indemnity in a speedy process from a fund that will be designated for this purpose and managed by the State Comptroller's Office. The law relating to the passing and publication of official secrets shall be amended and "public interest protection" will be granted to any public employee who provides an unauthorized official access to an official secret relating to an offense, act of corruption, a security failure or a health or environmental hazard. In the event that labor relations do not allow the worker to return to their position as stated in the Protection of Exposure of Corruption Law, and in the event that the employee is not interested in returning to their previous place of employment, the employee may take on another role in public service which is at the same level as their previous position and befitting of their skills.

Anyone who discloses the name of, or harasses, a public servant who has (in good faith) exposed corruption – including the employee's supervisor – will be subject to administrative sanctions, including dismissal. 

We will change the composition of the planning and building committees – We will ensure that elected officials are not part of the committees’ decision-making process.

We will fight corruption in local government – In recent years dozens of mayors and deputy mayors have been investigated for bribery and breach of trust. We will enact a Municipalities Ordinance Amendment Law, which will strengthen the rule of law and integrity in local government. The amendment will include, among other things, establishing rules regarding conflict of interests for elected officials in local authorities, rearranging the composition of the tenders committee in local authorities, expanding the publication of minutes from board meetings and increasing transparency, including in municipal companies, the appointments of senior staff in local authorities, etc.

We will maintain a free press – We will ensure that media which is independent of the government and not subordinate to the political system will remain free of bias and will not serve large companies and economic interests. The media will be able to fulfill its role in a democratic society – to ensure a full and fair flow of information and to bring multiple voices, a diversity of ideas and an open and cultured discourse into the public sphere. We place special emphasis on strengthening public broadcasting and working together with the Press Council in order to protect the right of journalists to work professionally without being subjected to pressures of any kind. We will promote legislation that will entrench the right to freedom of information and freedom of the press, but will also define the limits of the discourse and update the law to protect privacy, in order to defend the rights of citizens in the era of Big Data and social networks.

The Israeli economy is strong and stable at the macro level. However, Israel is still lagging behind developed countries in terms of GDP per capita, and suffers from low productivity and extremely high poverty rates relative to OECD countries. This situation directly affects citizens; low productivity leads to low wages and a high cost of living. Young people and workers do not see a future where they can make a decent living, buy an apartment and save for old age.

This is primarily due to the outgoing government’s lack of long-term planning, favoring instead policy carried out on the basis of short-term political interests, while ignoring the middle class in Israel as well as the more vulnerable populations. The leadership of the State of Israel has failed to present a vision and deal with the root problems of the economy and society. Today, the country suffers from a historic and growing deficiency in public infrastructure, especially in transportation. It also suffers from a low level of human capital, especially in the lower percentiles, from a very low level of investment in the business sector (outside of the high-tech industry) and from a great deal of bureaucracy.

The foundations of Israel's power are also in danger – In the last decade, Israel has experienced a relative decline in science and technology. Infrastructure that is essential for continued growth – investment in the higher education system, development of public transportation, investment in human capital and public service budgets – have suffered from neglect. Growth potential in Israel is not fulfilled due to low productivity and a burdensome bureaucracy. There is no preparation for the influence of global phenomena that are at our doorstep, such as the automation the labor force or the aging of the population.

Blue and White believes in sustained economic growth while maintaining Israel's economic stability and financial strength. We believe in an economic vision that focuses on growth and improving productivity alongside reducing poverty and creating real opportunities for all citizens of the country. We will strive to leverage Israel's impressive success in high-tech, innovation and creativity in order to improve our competitiveness and productivity in the traditional trade and service sectors. We will promote balanced reforms in the processes of import and export. We will promote a fair economy, competition and the moderation of market failures and monopolies. Only in this way can we ensure sustainable growth and strengthen Israel's status as a developed country. At the same time, the state must act to reduce economic and social gaps, reduce inequality between sectors and populations, reduce concentration in the market and bring the geographical and social periphery closer to the center of operation and activity.

There is no contradiction between these two courses of action. On the contrary, an economy in which all sectors participate in advanced economic activity and benefit from its achievements is a growing economy, and a cohesive and egalitarian society is a necessary condition for its existence.

The cost of living overshadows the economic situation of the middle class, young couples and the more vulnerable sectors of the population. We will address the roots of the problem, first and foremost that of low productivity, lack of competition in the economy, bureaucratic obstacles and the preferential treatment enjoyed by pressure groups. In the chapters dealing with employment, housing, transportation and small and medium-sized businesses, we will detail practical and concrete steps that will be taken to solve this problem.

We will promote a national plan for investment in public infrastructure – We will implement a plan to double the rate of investment in infrastructure as a percentage of the GNP within 15–20 years in order to overcome the enormous lag in public infrastructure, and to increase the investment supported by the recommendations of international organizations and the Bank of Israel, which will be financed through increased growth and collaboration with the private sector using PPP and BOT models. Most of the investments will be allocated to transportation infrastructure, as detailed in the transport section of this platform. 

We will encourage growth by empowering innovation and spreading it throughout the country – The key to long-term economic growth is science and technology. We will work to ensure that Israel is at the forefront of Research and Development as well as the commercialization of advanced technologies such as nanotechnology and quantum computing. Innovation, however, cannot be limited to high-tech parks in the center of the country, which employ less than 10% of the workforce.

This also has social implications from the perspective of Israel’s socioeconomic inequality, which stems, among other things, from the gap between the high-tech industry and the rest of the economy. We must integrate innovation in all sectors – traditional industries, finance, services and the public sector. In addition, innovation centers should be established throughout Israel, as detailed in the chapter on the periphery.

We will encourage investment in the economy and will act to significantly improve the level of business investment in the economy in all sectors – We will work to encourage investors from Israel and abroad to deepen and expand their investment in Israel in the high-tech industry, in traditional industries and in commerce and services. We will encourage companies to significantly increase their investment in machinery and equipment. We will grant competitive benefits to large international high-tech companies that commit themselves to undertaking significant activity in Israel. This will create jobs and business opportunities for local cooperation in Israel, and will, over time, fulfill their commitment to provide employment opportunities.  

We will strengthen Israel’s high-tech industry – Blue and White views the strengthening of the Israeli high-tech sector as a national goal. The strengthening of advanced industries in Israel will be a strategic contribution to a strong economy based on innovation, will lead to the integration of additional populations in high-tech, provide employment opportunities throughout the country and help impart the knowledge that is developing in Israel’s innovation industry to the public sector and the creation of smart infrastructure.

Strengthening the foundation of this industry should begin in the education system. We will work to define computer studies as part of the core curriculum and make sure that the education system offers a computerized learning environment throughout the country. We will increase the government’s investment in higher education in the field of technology and will invest in Israel’s project to combat “brain drain.”

 We must increase the percentage of people working in high-tech, which currently stands at only 8.3%. Every five years, the number of university graduates in high-tech majors must be doubled, and these, together with the graduates of the relevant military units, will greatly increase the number of high-tech employees.

We will introduce additional sectors of the population to the high-tech labor market – first and foremost the Haredi and the Arab populations – and we will promote legislation to maintain a fixed budget for the Israel Innovation Authority, which will stand at 0.8% of the state’s expenditure, as is standard in OECD countries.

We will renew traditional industries – Traditional industries represent a large number of employers (about 12% of the workforce) and an important part of the national product. They, too, need to be renewed so that we can benefit from Israel’s comparative advantage in entrepreneurship and innovation. We will restore vocational technological education to the Ministry of Education. We will strengthen technological education in high schools and enable professional training courses for outstanding students. We will ensure that schools are "adopted" by universities, which will assist in teaching and promoting exposure to science and technology. We will create synergy between industry and the science and technology curricula.

Additionally, we will launch a technological-vocational track for grade 13, designed to absorb those who are not serving in the IDF at the age of enlistment.

In addition, we will encourage enterprises to use advanced technologies by providing incentives and government assistance. Loans and affordable credit lines for the purpose of automation will be provided through state funding. We will transform geographical areas in the periphery into national hubs of advanced industry, such as the National Center for Robotics in Central and Western Galilee.

We will reform the activities of the public sector and the government by increasing digitization and innovation in the government and in social services – We will make the government more efficient, innovative and capable of providing citizens with services of the highest quality. We will transfer the "Digital Israel" project to the Office of the Chief Scientist, ensure that it is properly funded and recruit leading people from the high-tech industry. Each government ministry will be required to develop a work plan that includes innovative aspects and allocates a specific budget for Research and Development.

We will put increasing competition and fighting the root causes of the high cost of living at the top of our list of priorities – We will complete the Law of Concentration and work to increase competition in the food sector, as detailed in the chapter on agriculture. Empowering government services in vital areas, especially health and education, will leave citizens with additional disposable income.

We shall appoint a “Cost of Living Commissioner” – The commissioner will receive a set of tools that will enable them to deal with market failures, first and foremost by reducing consumer and food costs and promoting solutions for the problem of the cost of housing. In this area, the commissioner will focus on long-term planning combined with infrastructure solutions for transportation and employment in light of the expected demographic growth in Israel. We will examine the ability to update the Encouragement of Capital Investments Law to stimulate enterprises.

While the unemployment rate in Israel is low, a large proportion of those in the workforce work for low wages or part-time jobs that cannot support them and their families. Moreover, in the coming decade the employment market in Israel will have to cope with far-reaching implications of global phenomena, first and foremost the aging of the population and the automation of the workforce. Another phenomenon, unique to Israel, with no less significant implications, is the fact that there are sectors in Israel with a significantly lower rate of employment than in the rest of the country, especially among Haredi men and Arab women.

We will protect the rights of workers – A good economic market and a moral society are based on protecting the rights of every employee. We will ensure increased enforcement of labor laws and proper and safe working conditions for all workers in Israel.

We will advance the status of women in the labor market – Approximately 48% of the workforce in Israel is made up of women, slightly less than their proportion of the population. However, their status is far from equal: the wage gap between men and women is over 30%. Although the proportion of women studying for post-graduate degrees is higher than that of men, only 34% of middle management positions and only 4.5% of CEO positions in Israel are filled by women. We will encourage women’s advancement in the labor market by integrating them into senior positions in the public service sector and at the center of decision-making.

We will change the retirement age and make the employment model more flexible – Israel is one of the only countries in the OECD that has a gap between the age of retirement for women and for men. Raising the retirement age for women is required in several respects. We will examine a gradual increase in the retirement age for women to 64, by raising it by three months each year for eight years. We will also take into consideration women in vulnerable sectors of society in a way that will enable women in professions with a high burnout rate to take early retirement.

In addition to raising the retirement age, we will work to establish a system of tools aimed at preventing harm to women who do not work, women who work part-time and women in high burnout professions. In this framework, the initial wage threshold for receiving a work grant (negative income tax) will be reduced for women aged 62–64.

The income support benefit will be increased for eligible individuals. The possibility of early retirement will be given to women who work in professions that involve considerable physical or mental stress. Women and men who have not yet reached retirement age will be given an incentive to integrate into the labor market.

Arab women will be integrated into the labor market – Blue and White will act to integrate Arab women into the labor market by implementing vocational training programs in the Arab sector. We will strengthen the Program for the Placement of Academics from the Arab Sector into the Workforce, a program which is designed to identify, support and train students and academics with a technological education and integrate them into the high-tech industry. We will encourage initiatives and assistance for small and medium-sized businesses in the Arab sector through help centers and increase the scope of the loan fund for women from the Arab sector. Improving transportation and the number of daycare centers in Arab communities will also help more Arab women to go out and join the workforce.

Haredi men will be integrated into the labor market – The Haredi sector is part of Israeli society. A Blue and White-led government will reach out to the Haredi population without coercion, in order to provide them with the means needed to bring about changes which will increase their integration into the labor market. The employment rate of Haredi men has been in decline since 2015, when the previous government came to power and abolished the Equality Law and the Core Studies Law. The condition for integration into the labor market is the acquisition of basic knowledge in the education system. The core curriculum will encourage English and math studies for every student in Israel. Programs to provide such knowledge to graduates of the Haredi education system will be enriched and expanded, both through a year-long enrichment program for observant military service personnel and in other frameworks, including cooperation with third sector enterprises.

We will encourage entrepreneurship, vocational training and vocational guidance for people aged 45 and over – Data from the Ministry of Employment shows that the potential for job placement decreases with age, and worsens significantly after the age of 45. The age category of 55–64 is especially prominent, with a large number of job seekers and a particularly low rate of employment. This gap is deepening as the world of work progresses technologically, as many adults find it more difficult to integrate into it.

We will set up a special track for this age group at the Ministry of Economy and Industry, which will provide support for the establishment of new businesses and which will be granted convenient loans through a fund guaranteed by the State. We will work to establish joint work spaces for entrepreneurs and business owners, which will serve as incubators for entrepreneurs aged 45 and over.

Vocational training and vocational training centers for those aged 45 and over will also be improved, in order to make it easier for those who have dropped out of the labor force or those in a profession which has undergone automation to find a new employment direction.

Israel’s main asset is its human capital. Therefore, we must cultivate the potential of every human being and allow every young person to realize their potential in the best possible manner. In the spirit of the Jewish and democratic tradition, we must place the imparting of values ​​and the acquisition of knowledge at the top of our national and personal priorities list. We must provide each student with a broad education and continuous learning opportunities.

A quality education system open to all is an existential need for the State of Israel and the main instrument for realizing its goals, as set out in the Declaration of Independence. This is necessary for an exemplary, egalitarian society that is a leader in cultural, scientific and economic achievements. A proper education system is also the main instrument for reducing social gaps, which will lead to every citizen having a real opportunity for both economic and cultural self-fulfillment. Therefore, we will act to gradually improve the education system in Israel, from early childhood to the completion of a college degree.

Blue and White undertakes to lead the country to become one of the most advanced education systems in the world. The values ​​at its center will be excellence and equality. In order to realize this vision, we will advance strategic goals which are key to improving the system and bringing it up to the level of global excellence.

We will prioritize equal opportunities in the education system – In order to predict the expected success of a child in Israel today, you only need to identify where they live. This situation is intolerable morally, socially and nationally. We will work to increase and diversify public expenditure on education, and will invest in improving the physical infrastructure and human capital in the geographical and social periphery.

We will bring the education system into the 21st century. We are living in an era of tremendous change. Technological systems and globalization have fundamentally changed the labor market; by 2030, about 50% of the professions in the economy are expected to change or disappear. At the same time, the rapid movement of information and social networks makes it difficult to maintain a united society with a common ethos and values.

  Polarization is intensifying while the exposure to violent discourse and a culture of immediate gratification is increasing. The education system must prepare students for integration into a changing labor market and a competitive economic environment, while at the same time enabling them to be active members of the community and good citizens in the country.

We will advance towards a long school day – We will gradually promote a law regarding the operation of the long school day in accordance with regular working hours, in order to enable both parents to work full time and increase family income. Part of this goal will be achieved by strengthening informal education, including youth movements, and introducing it into the school framework several times a week in the afternoons. Thus, we will ensure that all children in Israel enjoy a quality, enriched education that provides life skills necessary for success in the 21st century.

We will emphasize the early childhood revolution – Multiple studies and many countries have reached the clear conclusion that early childhood education is the foundation upon which an excellent and egalitarian education system should be built. A massive investment in early childhood education will save money in the medium and long terms. As of now, such investments are limited to the later stages of the education system.

We will gradually subsidize daycare centers on a large scale from age two in the center and age one in the periphery. We will make it the purview of the Ministry of Education, instead of the Ministry of Welfare, to strengthen the Early Childhood Council so that it can tighten the supervision of these centers and ensure the existence of appropriate professional standards. We will establish early childhood centers and increase the small supply of kindergarten buildings in Israel today.

We will improve the status of teachers and principals – In order to bring the best people into the system, we will work to improve the status of teachers and principals. We will leverage the various programs that recruit young academic professionals on the way to their integration as teachers in the education system. We will reduce the practice of examinations, assessments and forms, leaving the principal and the teacher with adequate time to engage in pedagogy. In this way, we will ensure that in the next 10 years thousands of new and highly qualified teachers will join the excellent teachers who are already in the system, and will improve it. We will emphasize special rewards and grants that encourage excellent teachers to work in the periphery. 

We will work to strengthen the youth movements – An involved and moral young population taking an active role in the community is key to an exemplary society. The goal is to expand the activity of youth movements so that they will have 350 thousand active members in the next 10 years.

We will also work to deepen the educational continuity between youth movements and schools.

The Summer School program will be strengthened – This program extends the school year by three weeks and shortens the summer vacation. It currently enables low income families to have a high-quality educational framework for their children from compulsory kindergarten to third grade. We will aim to extend it until the fifth grade.

We will enact a law that will encourage and strengthen educational institutions that will teach core studies – Every education system must provide graduates with life skills that prepare them for work and study in adulthood. The emphasis will be on English and mathematics, which are basic skills for advanced work today.

We will advance reforms in technological scientific education in Israel – In order to give all Israeli students an opportunity to integrate optimally into the labor market, we will promote reforms in the field of technological scientific education, in cooperation with academia and industry. Responsibility for the vocational and technological schools will be transferred to the Ministry of Education. A system-wide program will be developed to improve achievements in the sciences in the periphery.

We will reinforce inclusive and integrative systems – As a by-product of our support for diversity, we will promote recently established schools integrating special education pupils, as well as frameworks that combine religious, traditional and secular students. 

We will deal systematically with violence in the education system – The Israeli education system, like the rest of Israeli society, is dealing with the phenomenon of increasing physical and verbal violence. When parents send their children to educational institutions, they must know for sure that they are safe. We will vigorously promote a national plan to immediately and extensively tackle the phenomenon of violence in schools. We will ensure that both children and educators are safe and protected.

A healthy nation needs a healthy healthcare system. The health system in Israel is one of the best in the world, and its exceptional efficiency makes the national expenditure on health relatively low. In contrast to what is happening in other countries (including the United States) there is reason for justified pride in the health services in Israel.

In recent years, however, serious mistakes have been made. Public expenditure on health is lower than in developed countries, and private spending is much higher. In Israel there are only 1.8 hospital beds and 4.9 nurses per 1,000 people, compared with 3.7 beds and 9 nurses in OECD countries. Lack of planning, especially the long-term planning regarding medical personnel, low budgeting and creeping privatization have led to a deep crisis, which has manifested in a severe shortage of nurses and nursing staff, hospital beds and medical equipment. The lines are long and patients are abandoned. The overcrowding in hospitals undermines human dignity, creates intolerable stress and leads to violence. The problem is especially acute in the periphery, which suffers from a shortage of quality medical personnel. The gap between the center and the periphery in life expectancy, infant mortality and medical services is intolerable. Government resolutions were not implemented, and steps to strengthen health services in the periphery were abandoned.

It is necessary to change direction quickly and decisively. As a country that values mutual responsibility, Israel must ensure that all its residents enjoy proper and quality medical services. For this purpose, a comprehensive plan must be adopted immediately, which will rehabilitate and upgrade the public health system:

We will increase the investment in health infrastructure and the expenditure on public health services in Israel – In the next five years the government will transfer an additional 12.5 billion NIS to the health and public medicine budget. In addition, an automatic update of the health system budget will be implemented in accordance with relevant measures and, in particular, a full adjustment in light of demographic changes of the Israeli population. Hospital beds will be added until we reach the standard rate of OECD countries.

We will implement an emergency plan to reduce hospital congestion – We will increase the availability of community emergency clinics (open 24 hours a day) to reduce the number of patients arriving to emergency rooms. We will create a solution in the community for ventilated patients and rehabilitation patients, which will allow for early release from inpatient departments. We will encourage community medical services, online medical services, family medicine and preventive medicine. We will compensate doctors to remain in hospitals for a full day so they do not have to supplement their income in private clinics. In addition, we will work to implement the conclusions of the Or Commission to streamline processes in emergency rooms and emergency medical centers, and to shorten waiting times. This process will be fully transparent to the public.

We will enact a national Long-Term Care Insurance Law – The law will entitle every Israeli citizen to care and nursing care for a period of five years.

We will significantly increase the number of doctors and medical personnel – We will launch an initiative to train doctors, which will include the establishment of new medical schools and an increase in the number of medical students in Israel. We will complete the legislation of the Nurses’ Law and raise nurses’ salaries. We will also greatly increase the standards for residents of hospitals and community clinics.

We will adjust the health care basket to the needs of a growing population and to opportunities that provide new medicines and medical technologies – We support the decision that the annual technological addition to services provided under the National Health Insurance Law will not fall below 0.8% annually.

We will establish a new hospital in the south and a new hospital in the north and will expand existing hospitals to initiate a national program for improving medical services in the periphery, which will include providing incentives to specialists and residents in remote areas and increasing the number of doctors and nurses in these areas.

We will bolster emergency medicine centers and ER rooms in the periphery and strive to develop the healthcare services provided in Eilat (which faces specific difficulties due to its particular location). We will reissue grants to those who choose to work in the periphery and work in struggling medical occupations.

We will establish an Authority for Government Medical Centers – This authority will turn over the inspection responsibility of hospitals to a new and independent body that will allow the Ministry of Health to focus on its regulatory role.  

 We will implement preventive health programs nationwide, ranging from kindergartens and schools to the IDF and universities, and will accelerate the labeling of unhealthy food products and prevent the entry of high-fat food, sugar and salt into educational institutions, government offices and public and supported institutions. 

We will reform psychiatric hospitalization – To complete mental health reform, we will take care of psychiatric hospitalization reform and renew the funding of the national plan for the prevention of suicide.

We will define the field of complementary medicine, an area that is currently unregulated and lacking in clear guidelines.

We will design the healthcare system so that it will become a national growth engine encouraging innovation, development and research in the Israeli economy as a whole – We will bring medicine in Israel to the 21st century, increase investment in Research and Development and encourage the BioMed industry.

A quality education system open to all is an existential need for the State of Israel and the main instrument for realizing its goals, as set out in the Declaration of Independence. This is necessary for an exemplary, egalitarian society that is a leader in cultural, scientific and economic achievements. A proper education system is also the main instrument for reducing social gaps, which will lead to every citizen having a real opportunity for both economic and cultural self-fulfillment. Therefore, we will act to gradually improve the education system in Israel, from early childhood to the completion of a college degree.

Blue and White undertakes to lead the country to become one of the most advanced education systems in the world. The values ​​at its center will be excellence and equality. In order to realize this vision, we will advance strategic goals which are key to improving the system and bringing it up to the level of global excellence.

We will prioritize equal opportunities in the education system – In order to predict the expected success of a child in Israel today, you only need to identify where they live. This situation is intolerable morally, socially and nationally. We will work to increase and diversify public expenditure on education, and will invest in improving the physical infrastructure and human capital in the geographical and social periphery.

We will bring the education system into the 21st century. We are living in an era of tremendous change. Technological systems and globalization have fundamentally changed the labor market; by 2030, about 50% of the professions in the economy are expected to change or disappear. At the same time, the rapid movement of information and social networks makes it difficult to maintain a united society with a common ethos and values.

  Polarization is intensifying while the exposure to violent discourse and a culture of immediate gratification is increasing. The education system must prepare students for integration into a changing labor market and a competitive economic environment, while at the same time enabling them to be active members of the community and good citizens in the country.

We will advance towards a long school day – We will gradually promote a law regarding the operation of the long school day in accordance with regular working hours, in order to enable both parents to work full time and increase family income. Part of this goal will be achieved by strengthening informal education, including youth movements, and introducing it into the school framework several times a week in the afternoons. Thus, we will ensure that all children in Israel enjoy a quality, enriched education that provides life skills necessary for success in the 21st century.

We will emphasize the early childhood revolution – Multiple studies and many countries have reached the clear conclusion that early childhood education is the foundation upon which an excellent and egalitarian education system should be built. A massive investment in early childhood education will save money in the medium and long terms. As of now, such investments are limited to the later stages of the education system.

We will gradually subsidize daycare centers on a large scale from age two in the center and age one in the periphery. We will make it the purview of the Ministry of Education, instead of the Ministry of Welfare, to strengthen the Early Childhood Council so that it can tighten the supervision of these centers and ensure the existence of appropriate professional standards. We will establish early childhood centers and increase the small supply of kindergarten buildings in Israel today.

We will improve the status of teachers and principals – In order to bring the best people into the system, we will work to improve the status of teachers and principals. We will leverage the various programs that recruit young academic professionals on the way to their integration as teachers in the education system. We will reduce the practice of examinations, assessments and forms, leaving the principal and the teacher with adequate time to engage in pedagogy. In this way, we will ensure that in the next 10 years thousands of new and highly qualified teachers will join the excellent teachers who are already in the system, and will improve it. We will emphasize special rewards and grants that encourage excellent teachers to work in the periphery. 

We will work to strengthen the youth movements – An involved and moral young population taking an active role in the community is key to an exemplary society. The goal is to expand the activity of youth movements so that they will have 350 thousand active members in the next 10 years.

We will also work to deepen the educational continuity between youth movements and schools.

The Summer School program will be strengthened – This program extends the school year by three weeks and shortens the summer vacation. It currently enables low income families to have a high-quality educational framework for their children from compulsory kindergarten to third grade. We will aim to extend it until the fifth grade.

We will enact a law that will encourage and strengthen educational institutions that will teach core studies – Every education system must provide graduates with life skills that prepare them for work and study in adulthood. The emphasis will be on English and mathematics, which are basic skills for advanced work today.

We will advance reforms in technological scientific education in Israel – In order to give all Israeli students an opportunity to integrate optimally into the labor market, we will promote reforms in the field of technological scientific education, in cooperation with academia and industry. Responsibility for the vocational and technological schools will be transferred to the Ministry of Education. A system-wide program will be developed to improve achievements in the sciences in the periphery.

We will reinforce inclusive and integrative systems – As a by-product of our support for diversity, we will promote recently established schools integrating special education pupils, as well as frameworks that combine religious, traditional and secular students. 

We will deal systematically with violence in the education system – The Israeli education system, like the rest of Israeli society, is dealing with the phenomenon of increasing physical and verbal violence. When parents send their children to educational institutions, they must know for sure that they are safe. We will vigorously promote a national plan to immediately and extensively tackle the phenomenon of violence in schools. We will ensure that both children and educators are safe and protected.

Road congestion in Israel is amongst the highest in the OECD. This is the result of many years of failure, a lack of planning and a lack of resources. The investment gap in Israel's transport infrastructure is over 500 billion NIS, yet Israel still lacks a comprehensive transportation policy. Israel is a small country and, in the absence of creative transportation solutions and an adequate national plan, its transportation challenges are yet to be resolved.

Road congestion has far-reaching effects on the economy and on society: a huge loss of time, increased road accidents and air pollution. The lack of proper transportation also expands the gap between the center and the periphery, excludes populations from the labor market and is a factor in the general inequality in the economy.

The way to cope with traffic congestion is first and foremost to invest in public transport systems and encourage drivers to transition into an efficient, fast and synchronized mass transit system. In the era of technological developments, it is possible and desirable to formulate a comprehensive national plan for a significant reduction of traffic jams within a few years.

Structural changes and construction of a modern public transport infrastructure require years, but the hundreds of thousands of drivers who stand in traffic for many hours per week also need immediate solutions. Therefore, Blue and White’s transportation plan includes reference to three time scales:

In the short term, an effort will be made to reduce traffic during peak hours and to advance the legislative and planning processes necessary to find long-term solutions:

We will establish a Transportation Cabinet – All the relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Public Security, the Tax Authority, the Capital Market Authority, local government and the Ministry of Energy will sit around the same table. This cabinet will quickly, decisively and efficiently promote the necessary planning procedures and develop creative solutions to the problem of traffic congestion. Metropolitan transport authorities will be established in the four metropolitan areas in the country so that joint regional transportation planning will be possible.

We will encourage cooperative transportation – Technology, in which Israel has a relative advantage, enables the use of shared transportation – another effective way of reducing the number of vehicles traveling at any given time on Israel's roads. Measures to encourage cooperative transportation will be taken into account in light of the impact they may have on taxi drivers. We will encourage joint travel to work places during peak hours and subsidize communal transportation in the periphery, where public transportation is less frequent and less available.

We will regulate the entry hours into Tel Aviv’s metropolitan area – We will give incentives to employers who allow employees to work from home one day a week and to work flexible hours. We will expand the operation of the “Nice to be Green” system to motivate drivers to reduce driving in city centers during rush hour, and examine a change in the tax policy – we will pursue granting a tax exemption on fees workers pay to use public transportation as opposed to taxation on parking benefits.

We will fight traffic accidents – We will work to improve road infrastructure, especially "red roads" (roads classified as dangerous), to add sidewalks and bridges for pedestrians and to increase police enforcement. We will also implement new and in-depth educational programs that will educate citizens about road safety from an early age.

In the medium term we will promote solutions based on public transport systems:

We will launch a national program that will make quality public transportation available across Israel, and will build additional routes for public transportation as well as launch "start-up" lines to central employment areas. Each year, another 50 kilometers of public transport routes will be made available, and the metropolitan plan for the deployment of public transportation routes in the Gush Dan region will be completed. Additional enforcement authorities will be added in public transportation lanes for inspectors in local authorities, and enforcement cameras will be installed. The "start-up" lines will reach, among other things, areas of employment that have significant traffic in the morning and afternoon hours.

We will bolster the public transport lines in the periphery – We will ensure the expansion of public transport in the periphery and especially in the Arab sector, so that no community will remain disconnected from efficient public transport. In addition, direct and rapid lines will be launched from the periphery to employment centers and metropolitan centers. Night lines will be expanded to allow access to entertainment venues from midnight to 4:00 a.m., leading to reduced driving under the influence of alcohol. 

We will strengthen the railway system and encourage cooperation between the private sector and the public sector in order to renew and upgrade the transportation infrastructure in Israel – A railway line will be constructed to bypass Be’er Sheva, which will provide a solution to the cities of the south and the new southern city housing the IDF training camps. We will develop an extensive transportation system to the train stations in the periphery, which will greatly improve the efficiency and availability of the railway stations.

In the long term, solutions will be implemented that are designed to bring about a profound structural change in the transportation infrastructure in Israel.

We will advance a national effort to establish a modern metro network in crowded city centers in Israel.

We will turn Israel into a leading country in the new transportation sector – We will utilize emerging technologies in Israel so that the future transportation system will be based on the replacement of current cars with clean and quiet autonomous cars, which will greatly alleviate the problem of overcrowding on the roads. In addition, we will offer financial incentives to the authorities to adopt intelligent transportation solutions and we will reward shared commuting.

Blue and White will lead a comprehensive parliamentary and public process aimed at regulating the legislative situation of the State of Israel on the basis of the Declaration of Independence, which states that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state that maintains equal rights for all its citizens. This process will be carried out through the completion of the Basic Laws project, first and foremost the Basic Law on Legislation, which will regulate the supreme normative status of the Basic Laws and the relationship between the legislative branch and the judiciary. The status of the Supreme Court, law enforcement agencies and the judicial system will not be harmed.

We shall enshrine in a Basic Law the principle of equality of the rights of the individual in Israel – The Nation-State Bill enshrines in law the fact that the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, in which it uniquely inscribes its right to national self-determination. However, the principle of equality of the rights of the individual is absent from it, and therefore we will ensure it is enshrined in legislation, in accordance with the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.

We shall enact the Basic Law: Public Service – This law will define the rules of public service that obligate every public servant to take loyalty to the public into account in every decision.

We will reduce the burden on the judicial system and the judges – For years, the Israeli judicial system has been dealing with an unreasonable workload, which is reflected in a large number of cases per judge, the length of legal proceedings, the erosion of the appeals process and great financial expense. We will advance a system-wide plan to deal with this issue, the main points of which are:

Increasing the number of judges and setting up a court of appeals, which will serve as a fourth stage between the District Court and the Supreme Court, and which will discuss civil and criminal matters. The establishment of a fourth stage will reduce the burden of cases reaching the Supreme Court, and will enable the Supreme Court to deal only with complex cases which are important for the Supreme Court to tackle.

Promotion of alternative mechanisms to assist in adjudicating in legal proceedings such as mediation or arbitration, or by utilizing the appointment of an expert on behalf of the court to give a neutral opinion to the parties involved.

The State of Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. With the establishment of the state, a "status quo" was established as a necessary compromise that enabled the coexistence of members of different communities and divisions in the framework of formulating rules in the relationship between religion and state. Over time, the agreements in this area eroded. The status quo has become a sign of stagnation, and today it sometimes even harms the individual freedom of some Israeli citizens and harms the status of Judaism in the country.

Blue and White will preserve the Jewish identity of the state alongside the realization of the right of every person and community to shape their way of life in freedom and tolerance.

A sincere concern for the Jewish-democratic character of the State of Israel requires a public debate on issues relating to religion and state. We must open up the status quo issue to dialogue and public debate, from a place of partnership and not confrontation.

We will work to rehabilitate and strengthen ties with Diaspora Jews and Israelis living in the Diaspora. The State of Israel must be sensitive to the situation and status of Jewish communities in the Diaspora and, in cases where the decisions of the Government of Israel directly influence them, consider their perspective out of solidarity with our common Jewish destiny.

We will act to change and improve efficiency in public institutions dealing with matters of religion and state:

We will regulate the kashrut system – We will advance extensive reforms in the kashrut system in order to make it transparent, accessible, open and advanced.

We will promote the appropriate representation of women – We will ensure the continued representation of women in all institutions of the state, including religious institutions and the rabbinate. We will ensure that every Jew can study Judaism in a framework appropriate for his or her lifestyle and religious outlook, and we will act to allocate such studies fairly.

We will ensure that women will also be able to study the Torah and will be entitled to stipends and scholarships according to criteria adapted to their needs.

We will work to regulate prayer arrangements in the Western Wall plaza – Blue and White will work to adopt the Western Wall framework, and will promote the expansion of the third prayer space that will suit the entire Israeli and Jewish public in all its diversity.

We will work to open additional civil cemeteries in order to meet the need for alternative burials.

We will work towards the establishment of a warm and welcoming conversion system, while adhering to Jewish law (Halacha) – We will work to establish local courts for conversion and to open conversion across the various regions. In order to make the conversion processes accessible to every citizen, we will act to allow city rabbis to set up conversion courts and to open registration areas for conversion in a manner that will enable each person to choose the court in which they wish to convert.

Blue and White will work to ease the process of clarifying the Jewish status of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia when they marry within the framework of the Chief Rabbinate by removing obstacles related to proving their Jewishness.

In order to reduce the rift between the rabbinate in Israel and the rabbinate in the Diaspora, clear and fair guidelines will be published that allow spouses, rabbis and communities in the Diaspora to take steps to keep up with the policy of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel.

We will ensure that Shabbat is anchored into the public sphere, while granting genuine freedom of choice. 

We will shape Shabbat in the public space on the basis of the Gavison-Medan Covenant – Blue and White believes that the uniqueness of Shabbat should be preserved as the state’s official day of rest, while enabling activities that meet the needs of all Israeli citizens.

We will allow local authorities that wish to operate transportation on Shabbat to do so, according to their specific needs and traffic routes, frequency of transportation and circumstances. Public transportation will be conducted on Shabbat by special concessionaires and by means of small vehicles (such as minibuses).

We will abolish the "Minimarket Law."

We will allow for personal choice of lifestyle in matters of marriage:

We will establish civil unions open to all couples – We see marriage according to Jewish tradition as the way of the Jewish people, by choice rather than by coercion. We believe in the right of every couple to realize their love in their own way, and therefore we will act to establish civil unions so that every citizen who wishes to can institutionalize their relationship in a way that suits their world view.

We shall ensure the preservation of the status of Jewish law – Jewish law is the legal and cultural legacy of the Jewish people, and we will preserve its status within the framework of Israeli law.

Israel currently suffers from one of the highest rates of poverty in the OECD. More than one fifth of the population of Israel lives below the poverty line, and one in four children are defined as poor. This is an intolerable situation morally, socially and economically, and it constitutes a grave blow to Israel’s national resilience. We will work to reduce poverty in accordance with the 2014 report of the Committee to Combat Poverty, which will guide all government ministries.

The first goal in this area is to reduce the poverty rate to the OECD average of around 11%.

Welfare and suitable wages are inextricably linked. In order to extricate more than a million Israelis from the cycle of poverty, we aspire to base the future Israeli economy on high productivity and high wages. We will protect the rights of workers and raise the minimum wage.

Disability Allowances – We will continue to gradually increase disability benefits to enable people with permanent disabilities to live in dignity.

We will increase the amount that people with disabilities can earn without their disability allowance being reduced (from 4,300 NIS today) to 150% of the average wage in order to increase the rate of integration of people with disabilities into the labor market.

 We will strengthen the status of social workers – These workers are fighters on behalf of the state on the social front. Today they suffer from an incredible level of stress, from unprotected work environments and low wages. We will promote a bill that determines a reasonable workload for a social worker and will add standards accordingly. 

We will increase training courses for integration into the labor market – We will provide training, first and foremost, to families trapped in the cycle of poverty, in order to enable them to achieve economic independence (an example of this is the "Breathing for Relief" program).

We will fundamentally change the system of removing at-risk children from their homes, according to the Silman Committee’s conclusions.

We will introduce social workers into the education system in order to provide children with a supportive welfare system within schools. We will integrate social workers into the education system, and we will develop supplementary programs in the schools.

We will implement various steps for the welfare of the elderly, as detailed in the platform in the chapter on senior citizens.

 We will enact a Social Services Law – For the first time, this will legislate and centralize the rights of people with disabilities in Israel. The law is intended to provide a solution to any person with disabilities in relation to the services and allowances that they are entitled to receive, and to change the attribution of rights, which is determined today according to the type of disability, to be classified by need. The first section of the Social Services Law deals with the rights of people with communication disabilities (e.g., autism), and the second section deals with the rights of people with physical and sensory disabilities. We will establish a committee to examine the needs of people with developmental and cognitive disabilities to formulate the third section of the law. 

We will complete the legislation to regulate the rights of disabled IDF veterans – We will ensure that the rights of disabled IDF veterans are anchored in law and that the services they receive are improved, especially in the field of rehabilitation.

We will enact the Special Family Rights Law – In this law, the State will first recognize its responsibility towards special needs families, in addition to its responsibility to any person with special needs.

We will reduce the bureaucratic burden on families of children who have disabilities or who passed away, thus alleviating the mental and material distress of these families during difficult times.

Summer vacations in rehabilitation dormitories will be shortened from three weeks to two weeks, so as not to interrupt the continuity of the toddlers’ care and to prevent parents from having to find alternative arrangements during their vacation.

We will establish an administration for People with Disabilities in the Ministry of Social Affairs – The administration’s goal will be to provide a solution for people with disabilities based on their functioning and not on the basis of the definition of their disability, as well as to help them realize their rights.

We will enact a community housing law – The law will allow preference for life in the community over life in outside frameworks.

We will simplify the transfer of information between the authorities so that when these children enter the education system, they will be placed in the appropriate programs in accordance with their needs and diagnosis. This will prevent bureaucratic red tape at the start of each year in special education.

Pre-medical treatments will be allocated to child development institutes in order to improve the situation today, in which parents are forced to wait months to get a response during a critical period in toddlers’ development.

We will improve the paramedic treatment in the periphery – Today, the standard of emergency response treatment in the periphery falls far below that of the center of the country.

Since the last government came to power in 2015, the cost of housing has risen by more than 10%. This comes on top of an increase of 80% in the preceding decade. It is intolerable that the cost of an average apartment should be equivalent to 140 average salaries, and decisive action is necessary to bring about change. A young couple in Israel must be able to work and save money with the knowledge that this will allow them to afford to purchase an apartment. A home must no longer be a luxury item reserved solely for those whose parents can afford to help them financially.

At present, there is a shortage of 100,000 housing units in Israel. The partial solutions presented by the current government have been unsuccessful in bringing down house prices. This was the result of insufficient new development to match the growth in demand; the lack of synergy between the housing units being offered to young people and employment, education and transport infrastructure in the vicinity; and the provision of apartments to young couples and those seeking to move up the property ladder with no statutory planning provided for the land for tender. In addition, the government’s strategy led to an increase in inequality, the result of a disparity in the value of the land obtained by different bidders in the tender process.

Blue and White will promote a resolution of the housing crisis through three main avenues: a) increasing the supply of units while maintaining long-term planning, b) targeted support for young couples and c) developing and regulating the rental market, especially reasonably priced long-term rentals.

We will increase the supply of housing units – The current rate of construction is 50,000 new housing units per year, which is insufficient to meet the demand. Blue and White will untangle the bureaucratic knots which are delaying the completion of existing projects, enabling an increase in building projects.

We will encourage the addition of extra floors to existing buildings in crowded city centersThis will ensure maximum use is made of the land while at the same time maintaining vital green spaces.

We will set quantifiable targets for planned housing stock and land sale targets for the Israel Land Authority – This will prevent the increase in supply from being halted out of calculations regarding the land’s “profitability.”

We will develop infrastructure and ensure urban planning – The efforts made in recent years to increase the supply of apartments has created a backlog of planned projects, primarily in Israel’s periphery. The primary obstacle in today’s housing market is the lack of infrastructure. The bulk of the effort must be directed here, with a particular emphasis on transport infrastructure (outlined in the transportation section of the platform).

We will provide young couples with targeted support – In the interest of a smooth transition, we will not cancel any steps or commitments that have already been made, and will support all existing “Buyer Price” agreements.

We will develop and regulate a reasonably priced long-term rental market – Making a significant change in the supply side of the housing market requires focusing the bulk of the effort on creating a large and adequate rental market, especially for long-term rentals. We will expand the “Apartment for Rent” program, which is intended to provide 150,000 high-quality housing units for long-term rental, a quarter of which will be price-controlled. This kind of increased availability will change the housing market for both buying (reduced demand owing to a shift towards the rental market) and renting (the creation of a suitable and fair alternative to private renting). The majority of the funding will be provided by institutional market actors, and part of it will come from state funds.

Blue and White will work to increase the number of apartments allocated for renting in every approved program in an area of high demand, making it policy for every tender of state-owned land to require a set minimum amount of the housing units to be marked for long-term rental programs. This includes programs that do not fall under the authority of the Preferred Residential Complex Board.

We will encourage projects in the periphery and the Arab sector – We will actively promote building projects in Israel’s periphery and in the Arab sector by subsidizing development costs and providing foundation grants for new projects. We will enable the developers to delay payment of VAT at the time of purchase of the land until the sales of the projects, with the goal of setting up long-term rental projects.

Blue and White has set itself the goal of clean and transparent governance that serves the public interest, and to appropriately delineate the relationship between the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government, establishing an appropriate set of checks and balances between the three. Blue and White will act to reinforce the authority and status of the Knesset, which has been significantly weakened in recent years, support the justice system and strengthen the public sector.

We will pass a law limiting the prime minister’s term of office to eight years or three consecutive terms (whichever comes first). In addition, we will act to reduce the number of ministers in the government, in line with the existing law.

We will strengthen the Knesset – When it comes to practical authority, the Knesset is weak in comparison with other parliaments around the world. This situation is exacerbated by the collective responsibility in the coalition which, in effect, dictates how coalition members vote in every reading of every vote. The end result of this is a Knesset that is railroaded by the government and a flood of “legislative statements,” only a tiny proportion of which actually pass into law, making a mockery of the entire drafting process. In addition, Knesset committees lack any meaningful impact when it comes to oversight of the executive branch and the ability to change budgetary and other priorities.

Blue and White will present and implement sweeping reforms in the role of the Knesset, guided by the core aim of strengthening Knesset oversight of government departments. The structure of each Knesset committee will be adjusted to match the specific government department which it oversees, and delegates from the department will be required to report to the Knesset committees. During the budget approval process, each committee will examine the budget of the department they are charged with overseeing, in much the same way as currently happens with the Joint Committee for the Defence Budget. Every committee or sub-committee will publish an annual “white paper” addressing the condition of its area of responsibility.

In addition, a fixed number of parliamentary inquiry committees shall be established by the coalition and opposition, with full transparency in setting budgets for the different departments.

Hand-in-hand with the reinforcement of oversight procedures will come a reduction in the use of private member’s bills, the sole purpose of which is to make a “legislative statement,” and, as a result, proposed legislation will benefit from significantly more detailed discussion.

We will strengthen the public sector – Human capital is the core ingredient at the heart of strengthening the public sector. We will implement the reforms endorsed by the Civil Service. A code of ethics will be drawn up for public servants, an effective program for employee evaluation will be implemented, the senior management of the public sector will be provided with professional reinforcement, structured career development paths in the public sector will be designed and a college for training and leadership skills for public sector workers will be established.

In conjunction with the Histadrut, we will drive a process enabling maximum managerial flexibility – Furthermore, we aim to ensure that this process will lead to the effective integration of high-quality human capital and the provision of advanced tools for management ranks to ensure effective management of workers in the public sector. We will act to expand the cadets program to the entire public sector, to gradually reduce the number of internal tenders in the system in order to bring in fresh ideas from outside and to set up a public employment service for lateral movements of employees throughout the system, turning the national public sector service into a professional administrative organization.

We will protect the status of the gatekeepers, the legal advisors, internal auditors and accountants in government offices, public bodies and local authorities.

Despite large-scale investment in recent decades, the gap between the center and the periphery is one of the biggest stains on Israeli society. Residents of towns less than 100 km to the north of Netanya or to the south of Rishon LeZion struggle with an unacceptable drop in wages, quality of life and provision of public services. Israel’s periphery is not the “weaker sibling” of the center.

Blue and White believes that change is required from the ground-up in our approach to the periphery. The periphery is the future of Israel’s growth, economic strength and social cohesion. This change in approach is based on two pillars: creating regions in the periphery with their own distinct “story,” bringing together government resources, regulation, local government, academia and the thriving cultural scene; and strong and effective local government. We believe that local government is at the heart of the solution, and not a symptom of the problem.

We will create a regional character, based on innovation-led key industries, in every area of the north and south – Inspired by the principles of the northern-based “It’s Time for the Galilee” program, we will identify unique regional characteristics for other regions too. For example, Eastern Galilee and the Golan will be an area specializing in food-tech, Central Galilee in robotics and the Haifa Bay area in advanced water industries. Every one of these areas will benefit from regulatory relief combined with unique investment grants, ties with local higher education institutions specializing in the field in question (Tel Hai College, the University of Haifa’s Karmiel campus, the Technion in Haifa) and allocation of resources, similar to the decision to shift the IDF’s Intelligence and Cybersecurity units to Be’er Sheva in order to promote it as Israel’s cybersecurity capital.

We will change the land price index – This is in order to end the current situation wherein the cost of development of land per dunam in a socioeconomically strong town is half of that in a weaker town.

We will unify the calculation of property tax – In line with the recommendations put forward by the State Comptroller’s report in 2014, we will set out common standards for calculating the rate of property tax.

We will develop existing towns – Instead of building more and more new towns, which weaken councils in the periphery and damage the environment, we will act to develop existing towns.

We will encourage small businesses in the periphery, in accordance with the section of the platform dealing with small and medium-sized businesses.

We will push to connect industrial facilities to natural gas – This will serve to reduce costs, lower the cost of living and improve air quality.

We will introduce regulation requiring state-owned enterprises to move some of their jobs and procurement to the periphery – In accordance with the section of the platform dealing with small and medium-sized businesses, we will encourage Israeli and international companies to move research and development centers to the periphery.

We will improve medical infrastructure in the periphery – We will build hospitals in Be’er Sheva and Kiryat Ata and strengthen local medical facilities. We will ensure the renewal of benefits offered to junior doctors who choose to work in the periphery, as detailed in the section of the platform dealing with health.

We will establish “The University of the Eastern Galilee” – The university will follow a multi-campus model, based on Tel Hai College and in conjunction with four other colleges. Alongside this, we will develop the MIGAL Galilee Research Institute in Kiryat Shmona.

We will invest in projects for urban renewal – This will increase the value of existing properties and significantly increase the number of housing units within the cities in the periphery, while also strengthening the education system, and cultural and sporting life.

We will implement the promises made in the “Plan for the North” and Government Resolution 922 for the development of the north and the necessary investment in the Arab sector – The previous government introduced sweeping, grandiose plans. However, upon closer inspection these were often no more than a new gloss applied to existing plans and unfulfilled promises. We will re-examine these programs in accordance with the policy proposals set out in this platform, and implement these promises.

We will establish the “Centenary Authority” – Israel is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. This requires an urgent vision to propose solutions to the unique development challenges facing us. Turning the Negev and the Galilee into Israel’s new areas of growth will ease the problem of overcrowding and shrink the disparity between the center and the periphery. We will set up the Centenary Authority, which will work to create a new blueprint for Israel: “Israel 2048.” This program will bring in leading talent from Israel and around the world, who will produce and implement creative and ground-breaking ideas that will place Israel at the center of global development.

Local authorities are tasked with the responsibility for the quality of life and daily routine of the citizens of Israel; they are the ones who take care of our local environment and the ways our daily routines play out. Many local councils in Israel are more efficient than the central government. However, in order to enable struggling local councils to run smoothly and to ensure that all local councils are able to participate in the effort to realize the “Israel 2048” vision, we will empower them through the following steps:

We will draft and pass the “Local Government Law” to regulate relations between the central government and local governments, and establish each of their areas of responsibility. This law will improve oversight and provide the heads of local governments and councils, as well as mayors, with increased responsibility for areas such as transportation, municipal policing and business licensing, hand-in-hand with granting the central government the necessary authority to oversee the prevention of corruption.

We will expand the autonomy of local councils in Israel which meet expected standards of conduct, and support councils which adopt recovery measures to transition to a position of economic strength.

We will promote a fair division of commercial and legal jurisdictions within local councils, designed to ensure a just division which will allow weaker councils to increase their income yield from property taxes, reducing their reliance on grants from the government and helping them towards financial independence.

We will re-examine the matching payments model of funding which disadvantages economically struggling councils in funding for municipal services, creating an unjust and unreasonable situation wherein more funds are invested in prosperous councils than in struggling ones. We will establish a new funding model which will empower struggling councils and allow them to provide their residents with high-quality municipal services.

We will promote a regional approach whereby metropolitan centers will provide services to all residents of the area and will be suitably compensated for joint economic projects. This will direct billions of shekels in economic development and improvement of municipal services to local and regional councils in Israel’s social and geographical periphery.

We will invest in the existing human capital and in attracting new, young and exceptional talent to local councils in Israel.

A core element of national security is the personal security to which every citizen of the state is entitled. The Israel Police is entrusted with a myriad of tasks aside from its role in tackling government corruption, from fighting crime to road safety, as well as its ongoing role in preventing terror attacks. Blue and White believes the police should be supported, streamlined and assisted in carrying out its security tasks with reinforcements in manpower.

 

We will create additional positions for police officers, with an emphasis on field jobs.

We will support community policing to safeguard people’s personal security in every neighborhood, every estate and every town.

We will promote a national plan for the reduction of violence in the Arab sector, including taking on crime families and collecting firearms, in coordination between the police and local councils. Priority for new police stations will be given to Arab towns.

We will fight agricultural crime by diverting civil-security recruits to guard duties in agricultural villages.

We will define the fight against the black market as a top national priority and will empower the relevant police units fighting it.

We will place the focus on youth – We will focus on dealing with at-risk youth who are in danger of falling into crime, and not only through enforcement and punishment. We will double the support network in this area in all the local councils and significantly expand the staff and budgets for juvenile probation officers, youth and juvenile investigators, police supervisors, judges and welfare officers under the Youth Law.

The almost half a million small and medium-sized businesses in Israel make up the largest and most productive segment of the Israeli market. 99% of the businesses listed in Israel are small businesses; they account for 53% of the market’s GDP and employ 69% of all private sector employees. And yet, despite their tremendous boost to the economy, for years they have suffered from discriminatory policies designed to exclusively support the largest corporations. In addition, self-employed people have an enormous disadvantage in workers’ rights in comparison with salaried employees. There is a need for a package of reforms to bring about nothing less than a revolution for small and medium-sized businesses, helping them not only to survive but to thrive, employing more people and putting food on the table of more families.

We will pass the Self-Employed Worker Law – This will enshrine in law a full set of rights for self-employed workers, reinforcing their status and their ability (as well as that of small and medium-sized businesses) to compete.

We will work to gradually create parity between the rights of self-employed and salaried employees regarding unemployment, illness and injury benefits – Self-employed workers and small business founders are disadvantaged in this area, not only in comparison with salaried employees in large companies but also in comparison with salaried employees that they themselves employ. We will enshrine the right to unemployment benefits and sick pay for self-employed workers, rights that at present do not exist, and will match their rights for workplace injury compensation from day one.

We will work to gradually create parity between the rights of self-employed and salaried workers regarding maternity benefits and paid mourning leave – The terms of eligibility for pregnancy-related bed rest benefits for salaried and self-employed workers will be brought in line. In the absence of sick days, a self-employed woman’s right to benefits will start from the first day of bed rest or another time-period below 30 consecutive days. In addition, we will advance proposed legislation for National Insurance to provide any self-employed worker sitting shiva for the death of a first-degree relative with paid mourning leave.

We will ease the tax burden on small and medium-sized businesses – We will expand the scope of fields which can be granted VAT exemption to include a range of independent professionals and service providers. We will implement accelerated depreciation, easing the tax burden on business activities in the first years of activity and in years with a significant investment in fixed assets and renewal of supplies. We will also push for recognition of pre-business expenses for tax purposes.

We will expand the recognition of expenses on vehicles, rent, meals and overnight stays to reflect realistic business expenses. We will set up a mechanism to identify and significantly expand recognition of vehicle-related expenses. In addition, we will push for partial recognition of expenses for business meals in cafes (with a monthly limit to be set by the regulation), and partial recognition for expenses on rent for small business owners renting a residential property, without a certificate for tax deduction on the part of the landlord.

We will pass a law limiting payment clearing fees charged by credit card companies – At present, these fees are extremely high for small businesses, and the market is highly concentrated.

We will open up the market to competition and government investment for the benefit of small businesses – Special government funds will address the credit crisis facing small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship and increased productivity. We will pass an amendment to the Mandatory Tenders Law, inserting a permanent quota of 15%–20% of government purchases to be made from small and medium-sized businesses. The law will also mandate any organization bound by mandatory tenders to ensure 15% of the tenders made in a year go to small and medium-sized businesses in the periphery.

A special law will deal with centralization in the security forces, establishing that a certain percentage of every purchase from one of the large corporations must be outsourced to small and medium-sized businesses, enabling small defense contractors to cope with the consequences of the new aid deal signed with the United States.

We will simplify the system for reporting taxes to the authorities – We will promote digital services and reduce paperwork to simplify the lives of small business owners and prevent unnecessary hassle. In certain sectors we will promote a switch to estimated tax payments (determined by turnover, value of assets, etc.).

We will create a support and mentoring network to encourage entrepreneurship – The network will be run as an agency under the Ministry of Economy, supporting small business owners during all the necessary steps to set up their business and in its early days. This service will be provided in exchange for a nominal fee, and will include assistance in preparing a business plan, preparation for signing contractual arrangements with suppliers and clients, support in submitting bids and participating in government tenders, and instructions regarding working with the tax authorities, national insurance and others.

We will formalize support for businesses during military operations and in their aftermath to prevent critical losses during periods of security tension. We will formalize a holistic, straightforward and permanent system for compensation for businesses harmed, either directly or indirectly, as a result of military operations.

We will minimize payroll tax for small businesses harmed as a result of national projects – Small businesses occasionally suffer as a result of national projects (e.g., the building of the light rail in the Gush Dan region). We will lower the payroll tax on impacted businesses and will set aside budgets to minimize the impact of any municipal taxes (property tax and local levies).

Protection of the natural environment, and the health of the population which depends on it, is one of the most complex challenges facing the State of Israel and the wider world. There is a clear correlation between protection of the environment and sustainable living and benefits to health, the economy, education, employment, transportation, narrowing the socioeconomic gaps in society, and Israel’s foreign relations.

Israel is home to exceptionally talented individuals and is a global leader in technology. We are therefore in a prime position to serve as a light unto the nations and to provide the world with solutions for the environmental crisis that humanity finds itself entering in the 21st century.

We will act to bring together all the stakeholders to take environmental action on a national scale with the aim of providing environmental, economic and social benefits to all the different actors in the market.

We will act to match the pace of the rest of the developed world and the scientific research in this field and will act to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in line with the UN agreement by 2050.

We will encourage the use of renewable energies – Israel is a “solar superpower.” We will advance the installation of solar panels on buildings in the public, industrial and commercial sectors, and will ease the regulations delaying the installation of these panels on residential buildings. We will encourage the construction of green, zero-energy buildings, as well as high-rises.

We will promote education and awareness of recycling and waste disposal – We will provide economic incentives for the creation of a process for waste sorting and identifying end solutions for the sorted waste. We will advance a policy and advanced technological solutions in accordance with the principles of the cyclical economy to prevent waste of resources, encourage reuse and recycling and, as a last resort, to process and bury waste. Among other things, we will promote legislation to reduce the dependence on plastic packaging and disposable utensils, as is common practice around the world, and will expand the Plastic Bag Law and apply the Deposit Law to large bottles. In addition, we will act to increase the prevention of burning garbage in public and private spaces and disposal of waste in parks and on beaches.

We will act to reduce food waste – 40% of our food is thrown away, while too many people live without food security. The reduction of food waste is a key environmental concern. We will promote awareness of sustainable nutrition in accordance with the recommendation of the Ministry of Health, and will act to establish a price-controlled nutritious food basket consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables and legumes.

We will gradually remove the polluting industries from the Haifa Bay area – These industries are directly impacting the health and quality of life of almost a million citizens of the State of Israel. We will turn the Haifa Bay into a global center for Research and Development and water purification industries, an area in which Israel excels.

We will ensure improved energy efficiency – Government Resolution 542 from 2015 establishes a targeted reduction in the use of electricity of 17% by 2030. However, no steps have been taken to reach this goal. We will act to improve the energy efficiency of all state-owned buildings by implementing a range of technological solutions: energy-efficient lighting, efficient heating and air conditioning systems, smart construction combining the use of natural sunlight and efficient insulation techniques, and the use of motion-trigger sensors for lights and air conditioning units.

We will protect animal rights and prevent animal cruelty – This will be done by transferring responsibility for enforcement of the law protecting animals from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. We will act to enforce the law and to align the standards and conditions in Israel with those of leading countries in the world in this area.

We will act to minimize the suffering of street dogs and cats by expanding the neutering and castration veterinary services in local councils, and will continue to encourage adoption. We will act to prevent healthy pets from being put down. We will support the law forbidding live animal transportation and will act to bring it back to the Knesset for a vote. We will also act to minimize trade in animal furs in the fashion industry, with the exception of religious traditions.

We will allocate resources to the protection of natural areas and ecosystems – We will ensure the implementation of the plan to divert water into the streams, following years of drought. We will also pass stricter regulations against chopping down mature trees, without harming reasonable development and building needs. We will answer the call to save the Dead Sea, a place unlike any other, which is disappearing before our eyes, by implementing a feasible plan following discussions with scientists and environmental figures as well as the relevant government departments.

We will increase oversight of pesticide use and encourage the use of eco-friendly alternatives.

We will promote and expand educational content for all age groups in the general population, encouraging awareness of conscious consumerism and prioritizing local produce, nutrition, looking after the environment and the link between environmental pollution and public health.

We will reassess the gas rig opposite Dor Beach – Developing the gas fields off Israel’s coast is a project of national importance. However, following on from the case put before the Supreme Court, it is possible that there were failures in the decision-making process to build the gas rigs only 10 km away from the shore. We will examine the economic and practical implications of changing that decision.

Blue and White has set itself a mission of advancing the status of women in Israel and ensuring gender equality. There is too much about the situation today which is intolerable: according to police statistics, 200,000 women and 600,000 children experience domestic abuse. 192 women were murdered by their partner in the last decade. Some of them had reported previous violence to the police and to social services.

In employment, the wage gap between men and women is over 30%. Only 34% of women hold mid-level management positions, and only 4.5% of CEOs in Israel are women.

Blue and White will act to advance the status of women and to achieve full equality between men and women, out of an understanding that gender equality and the full participation of women in all areas of life will advance Israeli society and its resilience as a whole.

We will advance legislation to increase the severity of the punishment for the murder of women by a partner, and legislation to protect women who report domestic abuse. We will guarantee state support for operating shelters for female victims of violence.

We will work to eradicate the exclusion of and discrimination against women, and support the integration of women in all units of the IDF on their merits and according to the requirements of the army.

We will act to eradicate prostitution and rehabilitate those who work in it.

We will enshrine in law the representation of women in positions of decision-making influence.

We will correct the institutionalized inequality in family law and will act to end the “jurisdiction race” between secular and religious courts in divorce proceedings. We will promote substantive representation for women on religious councils and will act to advance solutions for agunot and those who are refused a get.

We will enable a balance between motherhood and career, and we will support single-parent families and incentivize large workplaces to provide kindergarten and daycare centers.

We will act to implement the recommendations of the Stauber Committee within public sector employment, including partial work from home.

We will allocate sufficient resources to advance the issues described above and for the necessary training for police and law enforcement.

Over a million citizens in Israel, 11% of the overall population, are recognized as senior citizens (aged 65 and above). By 2040 that number is expected to rise to almost two million – 14% of the population. Within this number, the percentage of senior citizens who require nursing care is growing at an even faster rate, and yet the state has so far failed to meet this challenge, which is the welcome result of an improvement in life expectancy.

The challenge is multi-faceted: the estimates on which the health system (especially nursing), as well as employment and pension systems in Israel, are based, have failed to take into account a situation in which people live on for an average of 20 years after retirement. We see opportunity in this situation: a mature population with significant experience, many in good health and with a desire to contribute.

We will instruct the National Economic Council to put together a cross-departmental strategic blueprint – This program will tackle all the challenges that come with an aging population. At present, there is not a single central figure in government working on the issues surrounding the elderly. The Ministry of Welfare concerns itself primarily with those struggling financially, but does not deal with providing support to the primary caregivers. The Ministry of Health concerns itself primarily with senior citizens in need of nursing care. Medical service providers work with a certain segment, National Insurance works with a different segment while supporting the day centers, and the Ministry for Social Equality covers a range of issues, of which senior citizens are a relatively small part. Part of our program will include expanding the workforce charged with taking care of the elderly population and providing it with support that will enable it to offer innovative technological solutions for treatment and even remote monitoring.

We will change the retirement model, as set out in the economy and employment section of the platform. Furthermore, we will permit savers to independently manage their pension savings, reducing the current management fees. At present, the pension fund manages the savers’ investments; this situation is untenable. Over recent years, the management fees have been reduced drastically, and we will act to reduce them even further for senior citizens.

We will increase pension benefits to allow all senior citizens to lead a life of dignity. In addition, we will raise the guaranteed income supplement for senior citizens and will link it to changes in the average market wage. The primary priority will be senior citizens with no source of income of any kind except for their national insurance benefits.

We will adjust the National Insurance Law to encourage older people to integrate into the job market – We will act to change the current system, under which a senior citizen in employment earning over 5,646 shekels a month has their pension benefits cut, to encourage older people to integrate into the job market.

We will launch a national campaign against the exploitation of senior citizens by commercial enterprises.

We will bring senior citizens into the community – We will establish and develop frameworks for senior citizens to volunteer in the community and to bring together different communities, such as children’s homes and retirement homes or youth villages and senior citizens’ clubs.

We will act to reduce the dramatic shortage of nursing care providers – We will incentivize more people to train to become nursing care providers. One potential incentive would be to define nursing care as a “preferred job.” In addition, we will expand the number of foreign nursing care providers in line with demand and ease restrictions on providing foreign care workers to nursing homes.

We will open elderly daycare centers – Elderly daycare centers are unique and important and provide a solution for the needs of many elderly citizens who wish to spend their old age in their home and their community.

We will raise the public transport discount for senior citizens – The raise in the discount will be gradual – from the present rate of 50% to, ultimately, free transport for the elderly.

We will formulate a national action plan to deal with the problem of loneliness – For this purpose, we will encourage the development of technological tools and the creation of a national network of volunteers.

The Haredi community in Israel is an inseparable part of Israeli society. It has expanded rapidly and is a community in transition – many Haredi women integrate into the job market, many young people go on to pursue further education and there is a growing desire among the younger generation to integrate into Israeli civil society and the modern economy. The desire of the Israeli Haredi population to maintain its identity and to have equal rights and responsibilities as citizens presents a historic opportunity to overcome divisions and to build a shared future.

To accelerate the integration of the Haredi community into the economy and society while maintaining its unique identity, we will ensure the preservation of the world of yeshivas and Torah study, while at the same time opening the gates to those who wish to integrate into the workplace and into society upon completion of their studies.

We will increase the employment rate among Haredi men, accelerate the integration of Haredi men and women in academia and increase the percentage of Haredi men and women in high-tech industries. We will promote educational frameworks which permit general studies alongside religious studies. We will advance carefully planned building projects for Haredi communities in mixed and separate cities.

We will pass a conscription bill that is fit for purpose, based on the bill proposed by the defense establishment – Blue and White will act to expand the national service obligation to every citizen of the State of Israel. In the preliminary phase we will implement the rule of continuity for the legislative proposal written by the defense establishment. We will reinforce it and place it on solid ground in Knesset debates. Alongside this we will advance, reinforce and expand available service opportunities, so that each and every citizen of the state will serve in the IDF or equivalent service authorities.

We will expand the civil-national service pathways to include national security service in organizations such as the police, security services, fire services, search and rescue, agricultural security and more. The government will determine the size of the IDF, and the army will have unquestioned priority in determining who is enlisted into its ranks. Those who do not enlist into the IDF will be directed towards the civil-national service, and for those enlisting from the Haredi community this service will also include a training period for in-demand life skills, similar to the IDF’s “mission period.”

We will increase the number of Haredi people integrating into academia and employment by strengthening the role of employment centers for the Haredi population, supporting third-sector initiatives, providing professional training and more.

We will pass a law incentivizing basic studies in all educational institutions in Israel, as outlined in the education section of the platform.

We will abolish the Nahari Law – This law requires local councils to provide budgets for schools defined as “recognized informal education institutions,” which are exempt from the requirement to teach English and maths.

Blue and White will place the generation of the future at the heart of its national planning and will promote full equality of opportunity for every young boy and girl in Israel, and especially those in the periphery. This is a gifted generation, full of drive and ingenuity. After their national service, they will be required to confront challenges in employment, housing, education and the future of their own children, all while burdened with a sense that the political system is not addressing these issues. Blue and White is determined to place young people at the forefront. 

We will expand the “Uniform to University” program – This program was launched under Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and we will act to gradually expand it, until everyone who completes the full national service receives a full scholarship for a bachelor’s degree upon being discharged.

We will expand the system of benefits for soldiers on reserve duty – We will pass an active reserves law and will ensure benefits in taxation and support for small businesses owned by soldiers on active reserve duty, in order to support reserve soldiers – whose share of the population is decreasing – and their families.

We will expand youth centers – These centers will provide young people with employment assistance, support and guidance for professional training and studies and help in setting up their first business.

We will put in place a five-year plan for construction of student dorms – This program will see thousands of beds added to existing dorms.

We will reintroduce the Committee for Future Generations to the Knesset – This committee will examine every action taken by the government and every law vis-à-vis its impact on the future of the state and its young citizens. We will support the service years in pre-military academies, student villages and youth villages around the country.

Agriculture is another Israeli masterpiece that is presently at risk. It is threatened by the priority given to imports over local agricultural produce, increased brokerage margins, the lack of a new generation of farmers and an increase in agricultural crime. The government’s policy until this point, which includes one of the lowest levels of government support among OECD nations, has meant that Israel has the lowest number of farmers throughout the OECD. Furthermore, the average age of our farmers is 62.

In our view, agriculture is not only a way to preserve the land and the Zionist tradition, but is also a branch of the economy with growth and employment potential similar to other branches, in a world in desperate need of food and water. All of the advantages of Israel – innovation, entrepreneurship and the ability to take national resources and combine them with local leadership – are equally invaluable in agriculture.

We will create a national plan recognizing agriculture as a value – The plan will define a status for the rural area, agricultural land and permitted use of the land, and will establish long-term government support for agriculture.

We will tackle rural crime – We will expand the police activity in this area, advancing legislation to increase sanctions against those convicted of crimes against the agricultural sector and strengthening the investigation and enforcement unit of the Ministry of Agriculture. In the future, units from within the civil-security service we will set up will also be diverted towards guarding agricultural lands. We will use money from a government fund to reimburse farmers for any damages that they suffer.

We will promote high-tech agriculture in regional centers from the Galilee and the Golan Heights to the Negev – With regulation and easing of taxation policy, reinforcing national resources (such as the Migal Galilee Research Institute) and creating ties to academia, we will create advanced agriculture and food-tech in the Galilee, the Golan Heights and the Negev. Today, Israel exports products and agricultural resources worth two billion USD per year; our goal is to double that within five years.

We will solve the brokerage margins – The high cost of food is not the fault of farmers, who often receive laughably low sums for their produce. The main problem lies in the concentrated brokerage market between the farmers and the supermarkets (which is largely controlled by the food corporations). We will implement the government resolution from 2010 and establish a state wholesale market to improve competition and weaken the marketing cartel.

We will encourage agricultural industrial facilities in the periphery – We will amend the law encouraging capital investments, adding food processing plants for fresh agricultural produce located in the periphery to the list of those eligible for grants and benefits.

We will invest in upgrading infrastructure in rural areas – In this way, we will encourage the next generation to take over agricultural estates, especially in the periphery.

We will increase the export of agricultural produce – This will be achieved by introducing new marketing methods, some public, to fill the gap left by the collapse of Agrexco.

We will streamline the cost of water – We will act to reach a set price of 1.2 NIS for all types of water (drinking water, grey water, Dan Region wastewater). The target cost will be adjusted to the average cost of water in the OECD. In addition, we will reimburse farmers for the cuts to their agricultural water quotas in recent years.

We will regulate the status of temporary lands for as long as they are in use for agriculture.

We will increase the number of permits for foreign workers and bring back tax credit points for foreign workers in agriculture (2.25 credit points).

We will increase the state’s participation in premiums paid by the Insurance Fund for Natural Risks in Agriculture to expand it to include additional crops and to expand the existing cover.

We will boost research and development centers led by the Agricultural Research Organization, some of which will be relocated to the north, although the majority will remain in the center in order to serve the entire agricultural community.

We will prepare land for young farmers by ensuring adequate funding provided by the Investment Center.

Equal rights for the LGBT community is an intrinsic part of a state offering equality to all people, as set out in the Declaration of Independence. Every person has the right to live their life as they see fit; to be who they want, to love who they choose, to start a family with them, to have a child with them, to be given all the rights set down in law with full equality and to be out and proud in society.

We will pass an explanatory law – This law will assert the illegality of discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as already passed in a preliminary reading in the Knesset.

We will formalize the rights of LGBT couples to a recognized partnership through a civil union, as set out in the religion and state section of the platform.

We will pass a surrogacy law which includes the LGBT community, based on the draft law drawn up by former health minister Yael German, which passed its first reading in the 19th Knesset.

We will amend the Adoption Law – The amended law will permit LGBT couples to adopt a child in Israel and abroad with full equality to heterosexual couples, in contrast with the situation today. We will also ensure that parental registry for LGBT couples is identical to parental registry for heterosexual couples.

We will introduce tougher sentencing for LGBT-related hate crimes – We will ensure suitable training is provided for officers and strict orders from the Chief of Police on the subject.

We will respond firmly to any violence against the transgender community and we will fight the phenomenon of sex work among youths from this community. We will also work to regulate the activity of the sex-reassignment committee in the Ministry of Health, set aside additional operating hours and establish a protocol providing treatment for transgender people in mental health services.

The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people – a warm and safe home for Jews from all over the world. Through the process of Aliyah, new arrivals bring their exceptional human capital to Israel from every corner of the globe.

The new olim are a vital bridge between the State of Israel and the communities and countries they leave behind. As such, their complete integration and sense of belonging is important not only to them and to the country, but also impacts our relations with other countries, as well as Israel’s international standing.

We will set up a Knesset committee to eliminate racism and discrimination, which will support the continued Aliyah of Jews from Ethiopia, will deal with racism and symptoms of discrimination and will oversee the police response to over-policing, as well as the integration of olim from Ethiopia in public organizations, culture and media.

We will examine ways to improve the pension rights of new olim regarding pensions obtained before their arrival in Israel, with a particular emphasis on Holocaust refugees who came to Israel after 1953 and are eligible for very low levels of support, which is insufficient to ensure they lead a life of dignity.

We will act to introduce a warm and welcoming conversion processes for olim who are not recognized as Jewish.

We will prioritize public housing for olim.

We will ease the licensing examination requirements for olim with a degree in a medical field, as outlined in the healthcare section of the manifesto.

Despite the progress being made towards the integration of Israel’s Arab and Druze populations in society and in the workforce, their path to integration and full equality in Israeli society and in the economy is still a long one, full of obstacles. The integration of Arab men and women and their personal and professional progression are vital to growth, social impact and to the reduction of poverty and economic gaps in Israel.

There are several key obstacles facing the Arab and Bedouin populations in their attempts to integrate into the labor market: education and a shortfall in employable skills; religious restrictions; language and stereotypes; the cultural expectation in this community that Arab women should not be going out to work; and access to adequate transportation to places of work.

Improving the quality of life and integration of the Arab and Bedouin sectors in Israeli society also requires solutions in additional areas: a reduction in violence and the quantity of illegal weapons in the sector; resolving the lack of approved construction masterplans and illegal building; increased road safety awareness campaigns and developing road infrastructure; and providing education about healthy living.

Blue and White will lead a multi-year program to increase the integration of minorities into Israeli society and the economy and to raise the percentage of women active in the workforce in high-paying jobs. We will also emphasize investment in education that provides highly sought-after, employable skills and investment in physical infrastructure.

We will enshrine the value of equality in a Basic Law, as outlined in the Law and Legislation section of the manifesto.

We will reduce gaps in education by increasing the differential budget for educational establishments in the Arab and Bedouin sectors and in informal education.

We will reinforce the study of Hebrew and technological studies to improve integration of the population into society and the workforce.

We will invest in healthy living, emphasizing preventive healthcare and providing education about healthy eating habits, as well as increasing investment in building sports pitches and gyms. Mandatory sports clubs will be provided for children in the afternoons, adapted for each town.

We will accelerate the approval of masterplans and develop a blueprint to resolve the issue of illegal construction.

We will set aside and sell the necessary amount of land in line with the growth rate of the Arab population, and advance detailed development of every town. Part of this development will include allocation of lands for developing industrial areas within the vicinity of Arab and Bedouin towns.

We will increase the representation of the Arab sector in planning committees.

We will set aside increased multi-year investments in the budget for the development of infrastructure, namely roads, sewage, communications, educational establishments and public buildings in Arab and Bedouin local councils.

We will incentivize employers to employ women from the Arab and Bedouin communities.

We will subsidize transportation from the Arab and Bedouin towns to industry and employment hubs.

We will prioritize the establishment of daycare centers to allow Arab and Bedouin women to go to work.

We will boost employment centers and business mentoring schemes for entrepreneurs in the sector. We will incentivize entrepreneurship and the creation of points of contact between entrepreneurs and Jewish and Arab investors.

We will build technological hubs which will bring together Jewish and Arab entrepreneurs.

We will formalize a line of communication between the police and the Arab community, which will support regular dialogue and will promote Arab officers in the police.

We will prioritize the opening of new stations and the presence of police in towns with the goal of reducing crime levels. We will create and run educational programs to reduce violence and to combat traffic accidents.

We will carry out the unfulfilled promises laid out in Government Decision 922.

Blue and White believes that rich and varied forms of artistic expression are a social heritage asset and a crucial part of improving Israel’s standing in the world. We believe that the role of government is to promote culture and allow it to flourish, and that the government must not interfere in cultural content and attempt to bend it to its will.

We will promote a variety of cultural forms and encourage artistic freedom, based on an understanding of the vital role that culture plays in public discourse and thought in Israeli society.

We will increase support for artists and cultural institutions and ensure diverse representation.

We will formalize support for promoting Israeli culture abroad, recognizing its role as a leading ambassador for our country.

We will support public broadcasting that will be free, opinionated and of a high standard.

We will place a special emphasis on encouraging cultural activities in the periphery and assisting cultural, theatrical and artistic groups that choose to make a permanent home in the north or the south.

We will renew the criteria for support for the theater, guaranteeing the place and success of existing theaters, which are struggling to survive.

We will integrate education for arts and creativity within the education system.

We will put in place regulation requiring artwork to be displayed in public spaces as part of large-scale building projects.

We will support free, vibrant and lively Israeli cinema and increase the fixed support provided in the Cinema Law.

We will formalize the status of the cultural offices in local councils, as has been done with the youth center offices.

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