(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 11 March 2007:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he would meet with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abu Mazen in Jerusalem this afternoon and added that it was possible that future meetings would be held in Palestinian cities on a reciprocal basis.

Prime Minister Olmert said Israel and the PA had a series of issues to discuss. However, he added, "We need to continue to act in order to improve the Palestinian population’s standard of living. We must remember that we have no war against the Palestinian citizen who lives his life and wants to live in peace. We must do everything to in our power to ease restrictions on the Palestinians’ daily lives."

Prime Minister Olmert made it clear that Israel is monitoring developments in the Arab world and is paying attention to positive developments among moderate Arab countries: "We very much hope that at the meeting of Arab heads of state in Riyadh that the positive elements that have found expression in the Saudi initiative will be reaffirmed and that the chances of negotiations between us and the Palestinians will be strengthened."

2. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women briefed ministers on its 2007 working plan.

3. The Cabinet discussed the issue of fair representation for women on the boards of directors of Government companies.

4. The Cabinet was briefed on progress on the issue of the non-payment of salaries by approximately 30 local councils. Prime Minister Olmert expressed his confidence that the issue would be properly resolved in a few days and added that the issue would be submitted to the Cabinet at next week’s meeting.

5. PMO Director-General Ra’anan Dinur submitted the Government ministries’ 2007 working plan, including goals, timetables and indices for measuring results.

6. The Cabinet approved the appointment of Prof. Yitzhak Spiegel as Director of the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry Agricultural Research Authority for a period of four years, with the possibility of extension for a fifth year.

7. The Cabinet discussed the Peace Corridor economic development plan and instructed Vice Premier Shimon Peres to work towards advancing regional economic development projects in cooperation with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the PA, in the Gulf of Eilat, the Arava and the Jordan Valley in order to increase regional stability by means of economic development.  The plan will be defined as a national project and will receive preferential status in the framework of government activities.

The plan will comprise the following projects:

A) A water-carrier from the Gulf of Eilat to the Dead Sea (approximately 160 kilometers) in order to prevent the continued drying up of the latter, and promote agriculture and tourist projects in the Arava, water desalination and electricity production;

B) A joint Israeli-Jordanian airport in the Aqaba area.

C) An agricultural industrial zone in the Jericho area (with assistance from the Japanese government);

D) An Israeli-Palestinian industrial project in northern Samaria;

E) Joining the Israeli and Jordanian rail networks in the Beit She’an-Irbid areas.

F) Additional projects.

8. The Cabinet discussed Minister Meshullam Nahari’s and Education Minister Yuli Tamir’s proposals regarding local authority support for recognized, but unofficial, educational institutions.

9. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet approved the extension of Amnon Shapira’s tenure as Acting Chairman of the Public Services Authority – Electricity by one month or until the appointment of a permanent Chairman.

10. The Cabinet discussed funding for the new community of Hazan.

11. Transportation and Road Safety Minister Shaul Mofaz and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter briefed ministers on their plans to step up the struggle against road accidents.

12. The Cabinet discussed amendments to the National Insurance Law.