Jerusalem, 6 December 1996

CABINET COMMUNIQUE

(Communicated by Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Friday), 06.12.96:

1. The Prime Minister briefed the ministers that the Cabinet will in the coming weeks discuss the pattern of the permanent settlement with the Palestinians. He said that he has a clear conception of a permanent settlement which would assure the State of Israel’s vital interests. He will present this conception to the Cabinet, and will enable the Cabinet to fully discuss the issue.

2. The Prime Minister instructed the ministers not to allow government offices to leave Jerusalem. He said that he is banning government offices from leaving Jerusalem, and that any special request must be submitted to him.

3. The Prime Minister briefed the Cabinet on his visit to Europe and his meetings with heads of state there. He said that the expectation that the visit would place Israel under heavy pressure was not realized, and that we had succeeded in presenting European leaders with the facts regarding our positions. We made it clear that Israel champions a policy of openness vis-a-vis Europe. To the extent that Europe shows a more balanced and considered position, cooperation with it will increase.

Today, in most European countries and the U.S., it is understood that we are conducting the negotiations with goodwill. The Prime Minister’s meeting with the U.S. Vice President emphasized the continuity in U.S.- Israeli relations, and the composition of the new administration underscores the fact that the friendship between the two countries will continue alongside the common aspiration to advance peace between Israel and the Arab world.

Regarding the negotiations with the Palestinians, the Prime Minister emphasized that Israel favors the reciprocal implementation of commitments. The negotiations regarding Hebron have been exhausted, and it is possible to reach agreement on the remaining issues in a political-level meeting, unless the other side raises new obstacles at the last minute. The real question at this stage is whether the Palestinian side is interested in reaching an agreement.

4. The Cabinet approved the President’s trip to India at the end of the month.

5. The government decided in continuation of its decision in July, which was approved by the Knesset to act to transfer the activity of Israel Railways from the Ports and Railways Authority to a government company, and to grant the Authority’s responsibilities regarding railway and railroad matters to either the Minister of National Infrastructure or an authorized authority in his ministry.

6. The Cabinet decided in accordance with a proposal by the Minister of Education, Culture and Sport to grant permits for institutions of higher learning to several colleges: The Hadassah College in Jerusalem, The Netanya College, the Israel College for Optometry, the Insurance College in Tel Aviv, the Jezreel Valley College, and the Tel-Hai College.