(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 1 July 2007:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wished Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra a happy 70th birthday.

Prime Minister Olmert informed ministers that Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon is concluding his duties. The Prime minister thanked him for his great contributions to the work of the Cabinet and wished him success in the future.

Prime Minister Olmert discussed the end of the 2006-2007 academic year. 

Prime Minister Olmert announced that he has accepted Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson’s letter of resignation. 

2. The Cabinet discussed the transfer of four Jordanian prisoners to Jordanian prisons in order to finish serving their sentences.  The Cabinet decided that given the peaceful relations and special ties between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and given the request of the Jordanian government –

A. To accede to the request of the Jordanian government and approve the transfer of the four Jordanian prisoners to Jordanian prisons in order to continue serving their sentences;

B. The foregoing transfer will carried out according to law and in accordance with a special agreement – in the form of an exchange of letters – to be signed by authorized Jordanian and Israeli Government representatives;

C. This decision constitutes the approval of Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, which is required by law.

D. The transfer is due to be carried out on 3 July 2007 after the conclusion of the necessary procedures.

For some time, the Jordanian government has requested the release of Jordanian prisoners incarcerated in Israel for offenses that were committed prior to the signing of the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty.  This is in light of the peaceful state of bilateral; relations and given the fact that Israel has – over the years – released security prisoners who committed similar offenses, in the context of deals that included the release of prisoners.  Following extensive discussions, it was agreed that it would be appropriate to transfer the four Jordanian prisoners to serve the sentences that were imposed on them by Israeli courts, in Jordan.

This decision is a special gesture to the Jordanian government.  It does not affect other Government decisions regarding the release of security and other prisoners and is unrelated to any reports and contacts regarding the release of Palestinian or other prisoners.

3. The Cabinet discussed state participation in financing the expenditures of the families of abducted soldiers and decided as follows:

A. The Government of Israel is deeply committed to soldiers who, in the course of carrying out their duties, were abducted by terrorist organizations, and to their families.

B. The Government of Israel will participate in costs incurred by the families in the course of their efforts to bring about the soldiers’ release, in keeping with this decision.

C. A staff will be established to coordinate activities with the families. The staff will be authorized to approve full or partial financing for relevant expenditures incurred, according to procedures that will be determined, if it is found that there is place to do so. The financing will come from the Defense Ministry budget.

D. The staff will be chaired by a representative of Defense Minister Barak. Its members will include representatives of Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The Defense Ministry Accountant-General, or his representative, will participate in the staff’s discussions and oversee its work.

E. The Defense Ministry will be responsible for the staff’s activities and provide it with all necessary administrative services, including legal advice.

F. The Defense Ministry Director-General will report to the Government on the staff’s activities.

G. The staff will be authorized, with the prior approval of Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Livni, under the appropriate circumstances and conditions, to discuss other cases not listed above.

4. The Cabinet adopted various changes to the “Wisconsin Plan.” 

5. The Cabinet approved the upgrading of public shelters in the north.

6. The Cabinet discussed the recommendations of the committee that examined the conditions for changing the status of a kibbutz or collective moshav to that of a workers’ moshav or cooperative village.

7. The Cabinet adopted the recommendations of the team regarding reclassifying the status of Kibbutz Haon.

8. The Cabinet began to discuss the establishment of an authority responsible for Bedouin communities in the Negev.

9. The Cabinet discussed Israel’s water economy, especially increasing the supply of desalinated water. 

10. The Cabinet approved the draft 2007 National Health Insurance Law (Mental Health) and authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and Law Enforcement to formulate its final wording, which will be submitted to the Knesset.

11. The Cabinet discussed the award of an increased civil service grade to retiring civil servants.

12. The Cabinet approved budgets for the Haifa, Acre, Ramla and Lod boards of trustees.