Jerusalem, 21 April 1996

CABINET COMMUNIQUE

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 21.04.96:

1. The Cabinet, meeting as the Ministerial Committee on National Security, was briefed by the IDF Chief of Staff and other senior military officers on the situation in the north.

2. The Prime Minister and Minister of Defense told the Cabinet that Israel embarked on "Operation Grapes of Wrath" after it was unilaterally attacked by Hizbullah, which is operating in coordination with Iran, HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad, who are working together to destroy the peace process and to attack peaceful civilians, whether they be in the northern communities, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or other places.

The Prime Minister noted that military actions began after a long period of restraint and unceasing attempts at diplomatic dialogue. He called the operation a war of no alternative which enjoyed the support of the entire government.

The Prime Minister clarified that the responsibility for harming the civilians in Kafr Kana lies with Hizbullah, which carries out its attacks while hiding among civilians including women and children or among UN forces. The IDF has made, and is making, extraordinary efforts to prevent harm to civilians.

The Prime Minister emphasized that Israel has no plans to invade or conquer territory. Israel was attacked and returned fire. The operation is a clear act of self-defense, he said.

The Prime Minister stated that it is inconceivable that Israel should decide on a unilateral ceasefire, and that the government would examine proposals for a ceasefire if and when they are brought by the American secretary of state.

3. The Cabinet approved a number of international agreements, as well as bills on a number of issues.