STATEMENT BY MR. MORDECHAI
However, the Bible did not regard charity, the readiness of the rich person to give to the poor, as the solution to the problem of poverty and income distribution. It commanded that all assets be redistributed once every 50 years during the Jubilee year, and that everything start over again.Five years ago, the countries which participated in the Copenhagen Conference were less pretentious and assumed a series of obligations in the areas of national and international social development.
These obligations focused on eradicating poverty, finding an appropriate response to disadvantaged populations, expanding employment and searching for a delicate balance between economic and social development. I believe that every country called on the best of its resources and intellectual capacities to accomplish these tasks and to meet the challenges raised by the Copenhagen Conference.At the same time, there is no doubt that the short time that has transpired since the Conference was held and the limited amount of resources available prevented the governments from completely fulfilling the recommendations and goals of social development. The data before us today reveals that we have a long way to go before fulfilling the objectives that we set for ourselves. Tens of millions of children around the world still suffer from malnutrition, while, at the same time, the wealth accumulated by a small number of individuals is enormous and approximately equivalent to the Gross National Product of dozens of poor countries. More than a billion people live on less than one dollar a day, in contrast to the three richest people in the world, who are "worth" more than the Gross National Product of dozens of the poorest countries.
This is one of the expressions of the change that has taken place in the social development of Israel since the founding of the state. We changed from a society in siege, which places emphasis on collectivity and common realisation, to a society which places emphasis on individual rights, self-realisation.The State of Israel is proud of its achievements in the area of social development. In the last decade, Israel has absorbed a million immigrants, most from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. Most of these immigrants are now integrated in Israel society and in its cultural, political and economic life.
In spite of the ongoing burden of security, Israel has turned into a modern welfare state, and the readiness of its citizens to continue to support "the welfare state" has not diminished. On the contrary, our progress in many areas continues. For almost a decade, Israel has been spending more on social services than on security. Social legislation continues and expands its protection of vulnerable populations, such as women, mothers, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities. The social security net rescues a large number of poor people from falling below the "poverty line".Life expectancy in Israel is one of the highest in the world, with every Israeli being covered by the Health Insurance Law, which provides a large basket of health services. Educational levels have steadily risen, and drop-out levels have decreased. More and more Israelis have access to higher education, as well as special educational services.
The preferred model is not that of rich people contributing and maintaining poor people, but that of a society based on decent work relations, where most people realise their full potential and support their families through their work. With this in mind, social institutions are responsible for developing sensitive social arrangements and effective methods for the integration of needy and disabled groups in the workplace. We do not wish to remove hundreds of thousands of Israelis from the cycle of poverty through transfer payments, but through full "reasonable minimum wage", which would prevent more working Israelis from falling below the poverty line.We do not seek to come to terms with those rules of the economic game, which endanger social solidarity, but to find solutions that combine growth and economic policy with employment and social goals, together with integration and social development.
Israel is a country with a relatively small internal market. The process of globalisation is having a major effect widening social-economic gaps and limiting opportunities for weaker economic groups.Therefore, we ask to be full partners in the efforts of the international community to find ways to integrate economic development and growth with social development, full employment and the eradication of poverty and illiteracy.
We believe that the international community and its major institutions must find ways to give expression to the interdependence of economic and social policies and assist countries in examining these issues as a whole. We believe that tools and measures must be developed to examine the social ramifications of economic initiatives and evaluate products, output and productivity in social terms.Mr. President,
The time has come to work together for achieving full employment, economic growth and social development of all the peoples of the region. Israel has proved that it is ready to take meaningful steps in order to advance this goal.Peace will bring about an end to the hostility between the peoples, only if we are able to establish a network of neighbourly relations which promotes economic prosperity and social development.
The international community can play a major role in the economic and social development of the region.I pray that we shall all find the courage and wisdom to do this.