Jerusalem, 25 November 2001

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), November 25, 2001:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon clarified that his goal and the government’s goal is to arrange a cease-fire. Israel sees this as a matter of supreme importance and will make every effort possible to achieve this goal. This is the true test of Arafat and the Palestinian leadership. This will determine if their intentions are in fact to move the diplomatic process forward.

2. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer briefed the Cabinet on current security issues, and noted the significant preventive success of the past weekend – the death of the terrorist Mahmoud Abu-Hanoud, leader of the military wing of the Hamas, and one of the important directors of Hamas’ terrorist activities in Judea and Samaria. Hanoud was behind a series of murderous attacks in which dozens of Israelis were killed. He was currently planning a wave of suicide bombings within Israel.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer related to the criticism of the American delegation in Israel headed by General Zinni, and remarked that their mission was to advance the achievement of a cease-fire. Israel has a significant interest in the success of the mission, and in this spirit, the defense establishment is working to prepare the security aspects of the discussion for a cease-fire. Along with this, it was made clear that in the absence of a cessation of terrorism, and in the absence of the prevention of terrorism on the part of the Palestinian Authority, Israel will need to continue its preventative measures as a matter of self-defense.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer related to the current security activities in the field and noted the tragic event in which five innocent Palestinian children were killed on the outskirts of Khan Yunis. The Defense Minister noted that the preliminary IDF investigation into the tragic event revealed that there is a possibility that the children may have been killed by playing with an explosive device planted by an IDF force in an open area in an emplacement used for daily shooting at IDF forces and civilians in the Gush Katif area. Israel and the defense establishment express their regrets at the death of the children, and will continue to fully investigate the incident.

3. The Cabinet heard briefings to mark the international day of struggle against violence against women. Prime Minister Sharon made it clear that the struggle against violence against women is an extremely important social struggle for the character of Israeli society. The Prime Minister noted that violence against women is a shameful phenomenon and must be uprooted using every means in the most aggressive manner. It is first and foremost a struggle for values that should be placed in the forefront of the public’s attention. The Prime Minister added that after his election he ordered funds transferred immediately to the struggle against violence in the family and promised to enlarge the funding for this issue in the 2002 budget.

Ronit Lev-Ari, Director of the Authority for the Standing of Women, briefed the Cabinet on the campaign against violence against women and young girls.

Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit briefed the Cabinet on the list of laws initiated by the Knesset Committee on the issue of white slavery headed by MK Zehava Galon. The Ministerial Committee on Legislation has decided to support these laws in their preliminary reading as part of an agreement on cooperation in the future legislative process.

The Cabinet decided, based on the recommendation of Prime Minister Sharon and Education Minister Limor Livnat, to create a Ministerial committee headed by the Education Minister to advance the standing of women that will deal with the formulation of policy, and advancement of a variety of topics related to women’s standing and equality of chances for women in Israeli society.

4. Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Latin America, Pinchas Avivi, and State-Attorney International Department Director Irit Kahan briefed the cabinet on the activities of the committee dealing with the Jews that disappeared in Argentina under the military regime. They noted that during the period of the military regime between 1500 to 3000 Jewish adults and children disappeared or were abducted.

The committee emphasized the need to uncover the whereabouts of the missing people as well as the children who were abducted, and in certain cases "adopted" by their abductors. The briefers also related to the feelings of the families of the missing and abducted towards Israel and their expectations of Israel. They noted that among the achievements of the committee was the improvement in the families’ attitude towards Israel.

Prime Minister Sharon, relating to the briefing, noted that Israel must see itself as responsible for the fate of Jews all over the world, and emphasized that the case of the disappearance of Jews in Argentina under the military regime is a horrible affair, and the case of the abduction of children is especially serious, and action on this issue must continue.