Netanyahu Tells Ministers to Reduce International Travel, Except for China

Netanyahu calls on ministers to visit China in order to strengthen ties economic ties between the two countries.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that government ministers reduce their flights abroad, unless they decide to fly to Beijing. Speaking on Sunday morning during the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu urged the ministers to set a public example and rein in expenditures.

“I’m asking you to cut down on the flights abroad and take only the most essential trips,” said Netanyahu during the meeting. “We want to set an example for the public. Only one place is an exception and that’s China – you can travel there as much as you like.” China is a huge market for Israeli exports, so ties between the two countries must be strengthened, he explained.

Netanyahu further called on ministers to visit China – he himself has tried to organize a trip to the Asian superpower for the past three months. Netanyahu previously canceled his visit at the last minute, which insulted the Chinese and led them to delay issuing another invitation for a visit.

Netanyahu was supposed to fly to China in June to commemorate 20 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. That trip also did not take place.

Instead of Netanyahu, the Chinese met with former Home Front Minister Matan Vilnai, who set out for Beijing last week to begin his tenure as Israeli ambassador to China.

At a meeting of Likud ministers that preceded the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu told the ministers they must present the government’s accomplishments to the public. “This is a government that acts – we must show this,” Netanyahu said. Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat cut off the prime minister, pointing out sarcastically that such a thing is difficult when “ministers present contradictory data that show a rise in unemployment.”

Livnat was referring to data showing an increase in unemployment that was recently published by the Israel Employment Service, which is part of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry headed by Shalom Simhon. Several days after those statistics were released, the Central Bureau of Statistics revealed that unemployment was actually decreasing.