Jerusalem, 30 May 1999

Cabinet Communique

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 30.5.99:

1. At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister outlined a number of principles, according to which the outgoing government will perform its duties during the coming weeks:

i) In accordance with Basic Law: The Government, the current government maintains full authority until the next government takes office, following its presentation to the Knesset.

ii) At the same time, the outgoing government will refrain, as much as possible, from making decisions not required during the normal course of events. For instance, the outgoing government will refrain from making any decisions with budgetary implications or with policy dimensions that could change upon the formation of the new government, and from making new appointments. This is the general rule, although certain exceptions may occur.

iii) Meetings of the Cabinet and of inter-ministerial committees will continue to be held, but only as necessary.

iv) The Prime Minister asked Cabinet ministers to arrange for the orderly and responsible transition of their ministries, once the composition of the new government is known.

2. In the wake of press reports concerning negotiations with Syria during the tenure of the outgoing government, the Prime Minister clarified that, for a period of about one year, unofficial contacts with Syria were conducted along various channels. These contacts did not lead to any agreement, since Israel did not consent to Syria’s territorial demands; in fact, the actual negotiations constitute an accomplishment since they represent a retreat from the Syrian position that negotiations will not be conducted until Israel first agrees to a comprehensive withdrawal from the Golan Heights. On this note, immediately after the government was formed, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher clarified, in a special letter written at the Prime Minister’s request, that Israel is not legally committed to the position which Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had previously communicated to the United States. Certain accomplishments, in the security sphere as well, were recorded during these negotiations, and the Prime Minister-elect will be informed of them.

3. The IDF Chief-of-Staff briefed the Cabinet on security matters, including the discovery of the Dakar submarine and the situation in Lebanon.

4. The Cabinet was briefed on the absorption of immigrants from Kosovo and on the humanitarian assistance being rendered to the refugees.

5. The Cabinet cancelled the emergency regulations enacted during the public sector strike.