Jerusalem, 18 March 2001

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 18.3.2001:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon discussed his first working visit to the US. He pointed out that in the preliminary contacts which have been held up to now, it has become apparent that the American administration is in agreement with Israel’s position that there can be no negotiations towards achieving diplomatic settlements under the threat of terrorism and violence.

Prime Minister Sharon added that there are numerous indications that there is also growing understanding in European countries for Israel’s position.

Prime Minister Sharon said that it is highly important that the international community make it very clear to the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority that he must honor the principle at the foundation of the diplomatic process – the peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiation. The Prime Minister added that from regional and international perspective, it is of paramount importance to prevent the attainment of diplomatic goals through violence.

Prime Minister Sharon stated that once quiet is restores, it will be possible to conduct the diplomatic process. The Prime Minister emphasized that while Israel’s commitment to peace and regional stability is well-known, its responsibility is first and foremost to the well-being and security of its citizens.

Prime Minister Sharon remarked that the guidelines which he and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer have issued to the IDF are as follows:

In the first stage, restrictions on the Palestinian population will be eased in keeping with security considerations, while pursuing the struggle against terrorist elements; steps will be taken to provide security on roads in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza area; the convening of the "supreme security committee" will be demanded at once (governmental officials will not attend these meetings and no political issues will be discussed). In the second stage, when quiet prevails, it will be possible to pursue the peace process.

In accordance with Basic Law: The Government, Prime Minister Sharon charged Foreign Minister Shimon Peres with the responsibility of summoning and conducting Cabinet meetings in his absence, should the need arise.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres briefed the Cabinet on the recent meeting of the UN Security Council regarding the Palestinians’ demand to dispatch observers to the area. The Foreign Minister said that he had made it clear to his interlocutors that there can be no regional solution through violence, and that peace and coercion do not go together. He added that he had also made it clear that everything that has been achieved up to now in the Middle East has been achieved through direct negotiations between the sides, and that there can be no unilateral decision in respect to Israel without Israel’s consent.

IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz briefed the Cabinet on current security issues in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the northern border, as well as on the IDF’s working plan for 2001. He presented the Cabinet with the strategic plan vis-a-vis the Palestinians, the main point of which is to provide both security and a sense of security to the residents of Israel, halt Palestinian violence and prevent the attaining of goals through violence, reduce the chances for the internationalization of the conflict, reduce the possibility of a regional flareup, and maintain the possibility of a return to the peace negotiations (after Palestinian violence will cease).

The Cabinet appointed Minister Ra’anan Cohen as a member of the ministerial committee on the appointment of judges.

The Cabinet approved the appointment of directors-general to the Education, Interior, and Science, Culture and Sport ministries.

The Cabinet approved the establishment, composition and responsibilities of the following ministerial committees: Jerusalem affairs, the environment and dangerous materials, earthquake preparedness, publication permits, Israel’s Arab citizens, road safety, science and technology, symbols and ceremonies, Diaspora and immigration absorption, and the use of polygraphs in security checks.