Jerusalem, 5 July 1998

CABINET MEETING

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 5.7.98:

1. The Defense Minister and the Chief-of-Staff briefed the Cabinet on security matters.

2. The Cabinet discussed the events in Gush Katif. The Prime Minister said that the blockage of roads by the Palestinian Authority constituted a grave action. The tendency to flaunt or threaten violence every time a dispute arises is the opposite of peace and, from Israel’s perspective, intolerable. Senior Palestinian Authority figures had a hand in both these violations.

The Prime Minister added that, in light of the use of violence, Israel would not respond to Palestinian requests on the issue of traffic routes. The Palestinian Authority must understand that attempts to violate the agreement on traffic routes or in any other place will be met with the complete refusal of Israel, which will know to take appropriate measures to ensure the security of its citizens. Thankfully, the events ended without bloodshed, but nobody should be mistaken: Israel will not agree to changes in the status quo under such circumstances.

The Defense Minister said that the Palestinians failed to achieve their desired objective; they had wanted the road to be opened on a permanent basis, but Israel insisted upon returning to the situation which preceded the incident. No route has been opened as a result of having been travelled on one occasion.

The Defense Minister added that the forced opening of the road was liable to have ended in bloodshed.

3. The Prime Minister and the Defense Minister expressed their appreciation to Lieutenant-General Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who is completing his term of service, noting the conscientious and dedicated manner in which he performed his function.

4. The Cabinet decided to instruct Government ministries and departments to continue their preparations for dealing with the computer problems created by the onset of the year 2000.

5. The Cabinet ratified the free trade agreement with Slovenia.