(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
Jerusalem, 3 January 1999
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 3.1.99:
1. The Cabinet was briefed on security issues, with particular attention to recent events in southern Lebanon.
2. The Defense Minister informed the Cabinet that the matter of equivalent insurance coverage for both reserve and career soldiers is now the subject of advanced discussions at the Finance Ministry. The matter will be resolved in the very near future, after an examination of all relevant financial and legal aspects.
3. The Cabinet approved plans to enhance the standing of Kiryat Shmona, through expanding its municipal boundaries, constructing new neighborhoods and increasing the size of its population — for the sake of developing its public infrastructures, promoting regional projects and education initiatives, and creating a solid economic base. The cost of implementing the program between 1999-2001 will amount to NIS 219 million.
The Cabinet also approved a 1999-2001 development program for communities along the confrontation line in northern Israel, at a cost of NIS 913 million.
The Prime Minister said that he views the strengthening of Kiryat Shmona and confrontation line communities as a foremost national responsibility. As such, the Cabinet also decided to approve plans granting preferential status to these communities, which live in the shadow of a constant security threat.
4. The Cabinet formed an inter-ministerial team to assess flood damage, and to extend preliminary assistance to affected communities. The team will submit its proposals for Cabinet approval.
5. The Cabinet was briefed on the issue of judicial reform, according to which trial, appellate and supreme tiers will adjudicate important matters requiring a Supreme Court decision.
In accordance with the proposed model, the general court — i.e. the trial level — will specialize its activities, dividing itself into specialized sections within which judges will hear cases.
In order to ensure that the general court functions as a high-level trial court, appointed judges will be selected for their qualifications, to be beyond those currently required from district court judges. Cases will be gradually transferred from district courts to general courts; criminal cases will be transferred within four years, and special cases — to remain at the appellate level — will be transferred at a later date.
6. In response to the Public Security Minister’s question regarding accounts of a plan to compensate Golan Heights residents in the event of an evacuation, the Prime Minister replied:
i) The Government, under my leadership, has never prepared any compensation plan for Golan Heights residents in the event of an evacuation.
ii) Such a plan was prepared by the Finance Ministry during the tenure of the Labor government; all work on the program was halted when the Netanyahu government came to power.
iii) The Attorney-General has been asked to examine whether legal action might be taken against the newspaper which published the false report.
iv) The Cabinet has not changed its basic guidelines concerning the Golan issue.
7. The Tourism, Industry and Trade, and Public Security Ministers strongly rejected media allegations charging that the Prime Minister urged support for adventurous military operations in Lebanon during the Gulf crisis.
The Ministers emphasized that no substantive differences of opinion between the Prime Minister and the Ministers, or between the Prime Minister and the defense establishment, were expressed during any Cabinet meeting.
The Ministers and the Prime Minister clarified that — during all Cabinet discussions and on all issues raised — they acted responsibly, and that all Cabinet decisions were made in a responsible fashion.