(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 6 May 2007:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert noted that today is the Lag b’Omer holiday: "Lag b’Omer has been determined as the day to salute the IDF reserves. This is the fourth year that Israel is marking this day, the main goal of which is to thank those thousands of citizens who are called to the flag, do not hesitate, detach themselves from their daily lives and go an every mission.

The uniqueness of the IDF is the multi-faceted nature of those who serve in it. It seems to me that from this point-of-view, reservists make this into something even more special. Engineers and contractors, venders and painters, managers and wage-earners – all leave their homes and report as soon as they are asked.

There is no true way to thank the men who, for many days during the year, contribute so much to the country. One day will certainly not suffice to include all of the gratitude that we owe them. But today, we – the Cabinet, the state and myself – would like to say to all those who take part in bearing the security burden, to all those for whom the good of the country is constantly before their eyes – thank you. We appreciate what you are doing and do not see it as something that is self-evident.

Under the leadership of IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, we are continuing to improve the reserves’ readiness and conditions so that reservists will be able to fulfill their obligations in the best possible way.

Today, the regular military and the reserves are engaged in a great effort to improve preparedness. Whoever is familiar with the IDF as I am will see highly-motivated soldiers and commanders who desire the tools to train with so that they can be ready for any mission. This Government has adopted as its first goal the translation of this desire and this motivation into action, and this we are doing.  Thank you and a happy Lag b’Omer."

Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh and the IDF Chief Reserves Officer also briefed ministers.

The Cabinet approved the draft 2007 Reserve Duty Law and decided that after its first Knesset reading and during its subsequent discussion by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the Government will act to integrate into it the conclusions of the Brodet Committee on the security budget.

The Cabinet authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and Law Enforcement to approve the wording of the draft law and submit it to the Knesset.

The draft law is designed to implement the new reserve service model adopted by the Government following the recommendations of the public committee chaired by Prof. Avishai Braverman.

In the first half of 2006, the IDF began to reconsider whether or not the principles in the draft law meet the demands, especially regarding security needs. The need for this reconsideration was underscored by last summer’s fighting in Lebanon and subsequent changes to ongoing security needs.

Upon the completion of the investigation and learning of lessons process, on the basis of recommendations of the Mizrahi committee on the issue of the reserves, and given the comprehensive staff work on the reserves model, it was decided to enact several changes in the reserves model, as per the Braverman committee recommendations:

A. The addition of an article requiring the IDF Chief-of-Staff to issue orders on the reserves’ readiness regarding emergency deployments;

B. Determining the possibility of calling up reserves for operational activity as well;

C. Changing the maximum length of active reserve duty within a three-year period with an emphasis on increasing the number of days devoted to training and readiness;

It should be emphasized that in contrast to the draft law memorandum, this change will take effect no earlier than 13 March 2010.

D. Setting the discharge age at 45 for officers and 40 for other ranks, in contrast to the original draft law in which no such distinction was made;

E. Determining the possibility of reserve duty in the Border Police, similar to the current situation;

F. Determining the possibility of reserve duty in security-related units within the Prime Minister’s Office;

G. Determining the possibility of a reservist volunteering for reserve duty according to professional corps conditions;

H. Authorizing the issuance of emergency call-up orders by the Defense Minister, subject to approval by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as is currently done (as opposed to the original version of the draft law in which the authority was subject to Cabinet approval);

I. Determining that orders or actions designed to compensate, or show appreciation to, reservists for reserve duty is reasonable and measured and will not be considered discriminatory or an infringement of equality.

2. The Cabinet decided to support MK Avshalom Vilan’s draft 2006 Reserves Law provided that it is coordinated with the Government’s draft law.

3. Transportation and Road Safety Minister Shaul Mofaz discussed bottlenecks at Israeli ports and appointed a steering committee to deal with the issue.

4. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet appointed Yoav Rosen as Director-General of the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports.

5. The Cabinet approved the draft 2007 Women’s’ Labor Law and authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and Law Enforcement to approve the wording of the draft law and submit it to the Knesset.

6. The Cabinet approved the draft 2007 Public Education Law.

7. Pursuant to Article 31B of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet transferred the Finance Minister’s responsibility, as per the 1993 Bank Shares Arrangement Law, regarding the extension of Barnea Investments B.V.’s options (according to the 23 November 2005 agreement) to Minister Rafi Eitan.

8. The Cabinet approved the construction of additional facilities for various District and Magistrates’ courts in Israel.