Jerusalem, 1 August 1999

Cabinet Communique

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 1.8.99:

1. The Police Inspector-General briefed the Cabinet, in detail, on the phenomenon of violence in society.

According to the Police Inspector-General, in recent months, the Israel Police has taken a tougher stand against violence, in an effort to eradicate the phenomenon: There has been an increase of about 20% in the number of arrests, as well as in the number of files opened and indictments served. Incidents of violence account for about 25% of all criminal activity in Israel. Special attention has been given to the battle against family violence. In this sphere, there has been a 30% increase in the number of arrests and of files opened, and the courts are more attentive to the issue.

In the past year, there has been a 400% increase in the number of officers investigating allegations of family violence, with 170 investigators currently involved in this particular area. In addition, the Israel Police has strengthened its ties with community and educational authorities. At the same time, the number of women who have appealed for Police assistance has remained constant. On average, one woman is murdered by her partner each month.

With regard to drug abuse among youth, there has been a 33% increase in the number of files that have been opened in the wake of intensive efforts by the Police. The Police Inspector-General noted that there is a "bottleneck" of approximately 1,000 cases waiting for the attention of the Youth Services authorities. The Police Inspector-General concluded that there has been no dramatic increase in the number of incidents, but a steady rise has been evident and this can be attributed to societal changes. He noted that the number of youth investigators has been doubled, and that there has been a dramatic rise in the number of drug seizures. The Police Inspector-General also addressed the concerns of specific sectors, and on the closer relations being formed with community-based groups.

At the request of the Prime Minister, the Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office briefed the Cabinet on the implementation of decisions made by the Inter-ministerial Committee on Violence, headed by the Director-General of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry.

The Cabinet approved the proposal of the Prime Minister to charge the Directors-General of the Prime Minister’s Office and of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry with continuing the implementation of the report, preparing the budget for the year 2000, and working to heighten public awareness of the problem.

2. Pursuant to the above, the Cabinet approved the creation of the Ministerial Committee on Violence Prevention and Law Enforcement, to be headed by the Public Security Minister. The Cabinet agreed that Committee work on the issue of family violence will be coordinated by the Labor and Social Affairs Minister. The Committee was charged with presenting the main points of a working plan within a short time. Furthermore, the Prime Minister announced the formation of a Socio-Economic Cabinet under his chairmanship, to be chaired by the Transportation Minister in his absence, and of a Socio-Economic Council which will bring together the Government, the Histadrut and other relevant agencies.

The Prime Minister concluded, "Violence is a genuine threat to the foundations of our society. The national leadership must play the leading role in correcting the problem, as should the Knesset. There is a need for responsible leadership from among all levels of the citizenry in the battle against this phenomenon." The Prime Minister instructed the Cabinet ministers to give priority to the issue in planning the work of their respective ministries.

3. The Prime Minister briefed the Cabinet on his recent meetings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, and on his various other contacts. The Prime Minister emphasized that he has told the various world leaders that the Government of Israel will respect any decision reached by the Palestinians, and it is clear that their decision will influence the character and quality of the dialogue in the future.

The Prime Minister also noted his intention to begin the negotiations on the permanent settlement in the near future, and reported on the contacts between Gilad Sher and Saeb Erekat regarding the timetable for the implementation of the Wye River Memorandum, and on attempts to resolve the technical problems affecting the efforts to ease human suffering and to facilitate the existence of a normal routine as long as security and the process are not impaired. The Prime Minister stated that, during the talks between Sher and Erekat, the possibility has emerged of an estimated timetable for beginning the implementation of the Wye River Memorandum becoming effective in early September, with the actual implementation to begin in early October.

The Prime Minister briefed the Cabinet on the objectives of his visit to Russia, as a sponsor of the Madrid process, including matters related to the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran and the increase of anti-Semitism in Russia.

4. The Cabinet approved the creation of a ministerial committee, to be headed by the Environment Minister, to address the issue of cellular antennas. The Cabinet also approved the creation of a ministerial committee, to be headed by the Justice Minister, to deal with the institution of an official, legal framework for the radio channels geared toward various sectors of Israeli society while continuing the battle against pirate radio stations.

5. The Cabinet approved an agreement with Great Britain on bilateral cooperation in research and development.

6. The Prime Minister informed the Cabinet that, during the course of August, the Cabinet will hold a series of discussions concerning the State Budget. The discussions will address, among other things, the condition of the economy, structural changes to promote growth, and the 2000 budget for the various Government ministries. The Prime Minister clarified that advance discussions will be conducted with each ministry.