Jerusalem, 21 February 1999

Cabinet Communique

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 21.2.99:

1. The Cabinet decided, pursuant to its earlier decision, to allocate funds for the refurbishment of 50 Zionist renaissance and settlement sites across Israel. The Cabinet determined that, from 1999 to 2001, the Finance Ministry will transfer an annual installment of NIS 10 million to the Education Ministry for the sake of funding the project; municipalities will contribute NIS 2.5 million each year, amounting to 10% of the project’s cost.

This decision follows the 20.12.98 Cabinet decision approving the program of the Jewish National Fund, in conjunction with the Council for the Preservation of Buildings and Settlement Sites, to refurbish 50 historical sites which constitute milestones in the return of the Jewish people to its land. At that time, the JNF committed to finance half of the project’s overall cost, estimated at about NIS 75 million, over three years.

2. The Cabinet approved the charter between the Government of Israel and the Government of Uzbekistan on double taxation and income tax evasion.

3. The Cabinet approved the recommendations of the inter-ministerial team appointed to address the flood damage caused to communities in the Hof Carmel Regional Council, as well as to Daliat al-Carmel and Atlit.

The aid to be extended to these communities will amount to NIS 17.25 million for 1999-2000 and will include immediate assistance, the restoration of agricultural and public infrastructures, and the repair of the Hof Carmel drainage infrastructure

4. The Communications Minister referred to remarks in praise of Hizballah made by MK Azmi Bishara at a meeting of his National Democratic Alliance party, and to reports about the party’s platform which allegedly rejects the Jewish character of the State of Israel and supports the negation of the Law of Return. The Attorney-General said that he will investigate the matter.

The Prime Minister clarified that MK Bishara’s remarks are serious, but that they must be viewed as representative of an extremist minority of Israeli Arabs, and not be attributed to the vast majority of this constituency which remains loyal to the State.

5. The head of the GSS and the Foreign Ministry Director-General briefed the Cabinet on the incident at the Israeli consulate in Berlin and on subsequent developments.

The Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers expressed their appreciation and praise for the manner in which Consulate security guards responded to the incident.