Jerusalem, 31 January 1999

Cabinet Communique

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 31.1.99:

1. The Prime Minister welcomed Defense Minister Moshe Arens to the Cabinet.

2. The Cabinet according to the Prime Minister’s proposal and in accordance with Basic Law: The Government approved the appointment of attorney Gideon Sa’ad as Cabinet Secretary (Hebrew copies of his CV are available at the GPO in Jerusalem).

3. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister commented on recent developments in Jordan. The Prime Minister updated the Cabinet on his conversation last Friday (29.1.99) with Crown Prince Abdullah. The Prime Minister defined the conversation as good, beneficial and warm. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister added that from their conversations, they have learned that King Hussein’s condition is stable and they wished him a complete recovery. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister assessed that the situation in Jordan itself is stable and that the Crown Prince is continuing the King’s policies, according to the latter’s directives. The Prime Minister made it clear that the Israeli government views Israeli-Jordanian relations as a main pillar of its national policy, as does Jordan.

4. The Cabinet, in accordance with Basic Law: The President, approved the President’s trip to China in late April 1999, in response to an invitation from his Chinese counterpart.

5. The Cabinet approved the tabling in the Knesset of the draft 1999 Bezeq Law (amendment #21) and the 1999 draft law to amend the Torts Ordinance.

6. The Cabinet approved the proposal by the Transport Minister to instruct the Airports Authority to examine the possibility of establishing an overground rail link between Ben-Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv and an additional line from the airport to Jerusalem.

7. The Cabinet decided to instruct the National Infrastructure Minister to present for the approval of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and Law Enforcement an amendment to the Free Manufacturing Zones Law, 1994.

8. The Cabinet approved the 1999-2001 development program for northern confrontation line communities, which will concentrate on creating sources of agricultural production and and developing agricultural infrastructure. The Cabinet also approved the recommendation of the Inter-ministerial team on the confrontation line to categorize as northern confrontation line settlements all communities in the Lebanese border area i.e. within a 9km area of the border, including Nahariya. The plan refers to benefits given by government ministries to the northern confrontation line communities and income tax relief for residents of northern border areas. As part of the plan, the area of "national tourism preference zone A" along the northern confrontation line will be widened to a range of 9km from the border. The Tourism Ministry will publish a map that will include the area eligible for benefits. Investments Center grants will be provided for the construction of hotels and tourist attractions in this area, in line with the Law for aiding capital investments, as is usual in tourism preference zones.

9. The Cabinet approved the construction of five permanent communities for Bedouin in the south with the intention of easing the housing difficulties of the Bedouin population.