Jerusalem, 11 November 2001

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), November 11, 2001:

1. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer briefed the Cabinet on current security issues from the past week.

Palestinian terrorist organizations are making a concerted effort to execute deadly attacks. Most of their efforts have been foiled, but a small number have succeeded leading to the deaths of four Israelis.

The IDF began the process of withdrawing its troops from the "A" territories. The IDF has withdrawn from cities that have been relatively quiet after security coordination with the Palestinians, and the placing of security responsibility in Palestinian hands. In the absence of any Palestinian preventative efforts, noted Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer, Israel has continued its preventative actions, and has achieved many successes.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon noted, in relation to Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer’s briefing, that Arafat is the one responsible for the current situation in the territories.

2. The Cabinet approved the recommendations of an inter-ministerial team on preparations for the possibility of evacuation during times of emergency.

In light of Operation "Grapes of Wrath" in 1996, in which a partial evacuation of northern residents took place, the need to arrange the issue of absorption of evacuated residents during times of emergency became apparent. The Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office appointed an inter ministerial team which discussed the issue and submitted recommendations for the preparation of government offices to deal with this issue. Among the recommendations were the definition of the type of event that commits the government of Israel to decide on the evacuation of population, the length of time of the evacuation, the authority to order an evacuation and the need to prepare contingency plans by the bodies responsible for dealing with emergency events.

Prime Minister’s Office Director-General, Avigdor Yitzhak, was given responsibility for tracking the implementation of the recommendations.

3. The Cabinet decided to adopt the recommendations of the team created to examine the issue of establishing procedures for investigating and certifying new building methods. In the wake of the Versatile Hall disaster, the Cabinet decided to charge Housing and Construction Minister Natan Sharansky with appointing a team to deal with the issue of approval of new building methods and supervision of them.

The main conclusions of the team relate to the necessity of obligating the use of methods that have undergone testing and have been approved.