(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 25 February 2007:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid tribute to former Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Levi Eshkol on the 15th and 38th anniversaries of their respective deaths. Regarding the former, the Prime Minister said that, “Menachem Begin would always be remembered – at moments of national crisis – for preferring national unity over internecine strife. As Prime Minister, Menachem Begin made fateful decisions that shaped the fate of the State of Israel. He won the Nobel Peace prize along with the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who was his partner in making peace between Israel and Egypt.” 

Regarding the late Levi Eshkol, Prime Minister Olmert noted that he was one of the founding fathers of the State of Israel and pointed out that he agreed that Zeev Jabotinsky’s remains be brought to Israel, which symbolized national reconciliation and a change in the country’s domestic atmosphere.

Prime Minister Olmert noted that the seventh of the Hebrew month of Adar (25 February 2007 this year) is the day on which the state memorial ceremony for fallen IDF soldiers whose resting place is unknown is held. He said that this was an especially difficult and painful day for many Israeli families.

Prime Minister Olmert also referred to the Zeiler Committee report. He paid tribute to the men and one of the Israel Police and especially commended those who recently foiled an attempted terrorist attack in Bat Yam. He also praised outgoing Israel Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi.

2. The Cabinet was briefed in the context of the 2007 annual intelligence assessment. GOC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yedlin, Mossad Director Meir Dagan, ISA Director Yuval Diskin, National Security Council Chairman Ilan Mizrahi, Israel Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi and Foreign Ministry Center for Policy Research Director Nimrod Barkan were among those who briefed ministers. Following the subsequent Cabinet discussion, Prime Minister Olmert said that the Cabinet would hold a series of regular discussions in the context of the Ministerial Committee on National Security regarding the conclusions and lessons of the investigations carried out by the IDF following the fighting in Lebanon.

3. The Cabinet changed the composition of Israel Land Administration appointments review committee.

4. The Cabinet approved a supplementary assistance plan for Ashkelon.

5. Pursuant to the 1965 Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Law, the Cabinet recommended that the President appoint various individuals to the IBA plenum.

6. The Cabinet approved the recommendations of the committee chaired by Finance Ministry Budget Director Kobi Haver on streamlining and making more efficient the processes involved in receiving a business license in Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other ministers praised the committee’s work.

7. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law and in accordance with the recommendations of the Civil Service Committee, the Cabinet exempted the position of Finance Ministry Tax Authority Director from public tender.

8. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law and in accordance with the recommendations of the Civil Service Committee, the Cabinet exempted various Strategic Affairs Ministry positions from public tenders.

9. The Cabinet discussed the issue of the restoration of Jewish property rights and noted Prime Minister Olmert’s decision that Minister Yaacov Edery will be responsible for the issue and for the issue of the rights of those Jews who left Arab countries as refugees. The Cabinet also established a ministerial committee on the issues, to be chaired by Minister Edery, and a steering committee.

10. Pursuant to Articles 15 and 31A of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet decided that:

A. MK Esterina Tartman will serve as Tourism Minister.

B. Minister Yitzhak Herzog will serve as Social Affairs and Services Minister and will be responsible for Diaspora affairs and the struggle against anti-Semitism.

C. Minister Raleb Majadele will serve as Science, Culture and Sports Minister.

D. The Social Affairs Ministry will be renamed as the Social Affairs and Services Ministry.

E. A Ministerial Committee on Social Affairs and Services, to be chaired by Minister Herzog, will be established.

F. Minister Yaacov Edery will be responsible for the State of Israel’s 60th Independence Day festivities.

The foregoing will be submitted for Knesset approval and published in the official gazette.