(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 22 April 2007:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he had received Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson’s statement that the latter was taking a temporary leave of absence as a result of the police investigations in his regard and as per Article 24b of Basic Law: The Government.

Prime Minister Olmert noted that in keeping with Article 24b of Basic Law: The Government, he would temporarily serve as Acting Finance Minister. The Prime Minister wished Finance Minister Hirchson well.

2. Prime Minister Olmert referred to the issue of the compensation paid by the State to the bereaved families: “For many years, the bereaved families have been troubled by the issue of the compensation they receive from the State of Israel. A public committee chaired by Prof. Yaacov Ne’eman discussed the issue. Both the current and previous Defense Ministers have recommended adopting its conclusions regarding the nature of the compensation paid to the families. I have decided that, in light of these recommendations, the compensation paid to bereaved families will be unrelated to means testing. Henceforth, bereaved families – whether as a result of Israel’s wars or terrorism – will receive equal compensation that reflects the State’s recognition that the unbearable price they have paid cannot be a function of their economic situation.”

3. Pursuant to the 1971 Police Ordinance (New Version) and according to the recommendation of Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, the Cabinet appointed Police Maj.-Gen. David (Dudi) Cohen as Israel Police Inspector-General with the rank of Commissioner, in place of outgoing Inspector-General Moshe Karadi, effective 1 May 2007.

The Israel Police Insp.-Gen. serves a four-year term. In emergencies, the Government is authorized to extend his term by a period of up to one year.

Commissioner Cohen’s appointment was approved by the Advisory Committee on Senior Civil Service Appointments chaired by retired judge Yaakov Terkel. Commissioner Cohen has served in the Israel Police since 1977 and has held various senior posts including, most recently Commander of the Central District.

Prime Minister Olmert paid tribute to outgoing Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Karadi.

4. The Cabinet approved its 2008-2010 national socio-economic plan.

The Cabinet established an interministerial committee to deal with the detailed planning, formulation, implementation and monitoring of the plan. Finance Ministry Director-General Yarom Ariav will chair the committee, which will also include senior representatives of Social Welfare and Social Services, and Trade, Industry and Labor ministries, the Bank of Israel and the National Economics Council.

5. Education Minister Yuli Tamir briefed the Cabinet on the need to strengthen the positions of teachers and principals. An interministerial committee was appointed to submit for Cabinet approval proposals on the issue.

6. The Cabinet decided to allow the Multinational Force and Observers to purchase official offices. This decision will not affect other permits that may be required by law.

7. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments) and in accordance with the recommendation of the Civil Service Committee, the Cabinet decided to exempt from public tender the position of Chairman of the Earthquake Preparations Steering Committee.

8. Pursuant to the 1996 Electricity Law and in accordance with the recommendations of National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson, the Cabinet appointed Amnon Shapira as Chairman of the Public Services Administration – Electricity, effective immediately.

9. The Cabinet discussed the issue of encouraging employment in national priority regions vis-a-vis the ultra-orthodox and non-Jewish sectors.

10. The Cabinet also discussed the issue of encouraging employment in ultra-orthodox and Bedouin communities in the Negev.

11. The Cabinet decided to extend the period in which approved enterprises are eligible to receive various grants and benefits in order to encourage employment in ‘A’ national priority regions and in socio-economically depressed communities.