Jerusalem, 18 April 1999

Cabinet Communique

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 18.4.99:

1. At the start of the meeting, the Foreign Minister briefed the Cabinet on the meeting of European foreign ministers, which he attended over the weekend in Stuttgart.

The Foreign Minister noted that, at the meeting, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk a-Shara claimed that former Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres had promised that Israel would withdraw to the 4 June 1967 border within the framework of a settlement with Syria – – to which the Foreign Minister responded that the Likud government is, and would be, unprepared to accept any preconditions for the resumption of peace negotiations with Syria.

The Foreign Minister further noted that he insisted the matter not be included in the final communique of the conference and that his demand was met.

The Prime Minister said that the statements of the Syrian Foreign Minister unequivocally confirm what was already known that the previous government consented to withdraw to the shore of the Kinneret. According to the Prime Minister, the comments of the Syrian Foreign Minister also explain why the talks have not resumed because the Likud government has not agreed, and will not agree, to such a condition serving as the point of departure for the negotiations. The willingness of the Labor Party and the Left to resume the talks from the point where they were halted during the term of the previous government constitutes their consent to retreat to the banks of the Kinneret.

2. The head of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force presented the Cabinet with statistics detailing the number of terrorist attacks and casualties that have occurred since September 1993 (Oslo I).

September-December 1993 – 62 people killed
1994 – 74 people killed
1995 – 49 people killed
1996 – 82 people killed
(mostly in four suicide attacks during February-March)
1997 – 33 people killed
1998 – 13 people killed
January-March 1999 – 1 person killed

The head of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force noted that, over time, there has been a great improvement in the professionalism and efficiency of the security forces vis-a-vis the war against terrorism. He added that the Palestinian Authority has prosecuted almost nobody for involvement in terrorist activities.

The Prime Minister said that the statistics indicate a decline of almost 80% in the number terrorist victims during the tenure of the present government, which has resulted from Israel’s bolstered action against terrorism, and from the activist policy of the security branches acting at the instruction of the Government and in accordance with its policies. Also contributing to the increase in internal security is the current government’s policy of reciprocity. The Palestinians are conscious of the fact that terrorist attacks will also affect them, even in the political sphere, in the wake of Israel’s response. The Prime Minister emphasized that, in light of this, the Palestinian Authority has refrained from assisting terrorist operations and has taken specific action to combat terrorism although they have not yet taken action against the terrorist infrastructure.

At the same time, it is impossible to guarantee that there will be no terrorist attacks in the future, because the desire of terrorist organizations to perpetrate attacks still remains unchanged. What has changed is our ability to prevent such acts from being perpetrated as a consequence of security and political action. This is a badge of honor for the Government.

The Prime Minister offered his thanks to the GSS, the IDF, the Israel Police and the other security branches for their uncompromising war against terrorism.

3. The Cabinet decided to adopt the recommendations of the Service Committee and exempt, in line with the Civil Service Law (Appointments) from the obligation of external tender, 11 external appointments (not from the permanent staff of the Foreign Ministry) of heads of diplomatic representations abroad. Thus the status quo on external appointments in the Foreign Ministry, pertaining since 1969, when an agreement was signed between the Foreign Ministry management, representatives of the Civil Service Commission and the Foreign Ministry workers’ council, will be maintained.

It should be noted that contrary to external appointments made by previous governments, and in accordance with the decision taken by the Cabinet this March, the abilities of the external candidates, and their suitability will be checked by the Appointments Committee headed by the Civil Service Commissioner.

The Cabinet decided today that "internal" appointments – which pass through an internal tendering process will not be subordinate to the Civil Service Commission.

4. The Cabinet decided to extend by three months the appointment of Roni Comer to the position of Director- General of the Environment Ministry.