(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 23 September 2007):

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert referred to recent security events in Nablus: “The security forces – the IDF and the ISA – enjoy the full backing of the Government in all of their activities.  They are active in all sectors, day and night, and have made very impressive achievements.  In many cases, these achievements find expression in actions that are not made public.  This does not mean a lack of success, daring or accomplishments.”

Prime Minister Olmert also said: “Today, the day after Yom Kippur, is the official Remembrance Day for the fallen of the Yom Kippur War, which was perhaps the most painful and the most brilliant in the history of Israel’s wars.  The war that started with complete surprise and saw the greatest number of IDF casualties ended such that it was the basis that eventually led to peace between us and Egypt.  The State of Israel’s pain does not go away. The State remembers its sons and daughters who fell in the brutal fighting 34 years ago.  Today we bow our heads in their memory; state ceremonies will be held throughout the country today.”

2. The Cabinet took leave from outgoing Atomic Energy Commission Director-General Gideon Frank and welcomed incoming AEC Director-General Shaul Horev. 

3. The Cabinet discussed the issue of Palestinian prisoners and decided, as a gesture of goodwill towards the head of the Palestinian Authority, and on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr,  to recommend the release of approximately 100 Palestinian prisoners and detainees from Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The prisoner release will be in accordance with agreed-upon criteria, in addition to humanitarian cases stemming from special medical circumstances.

The Ministerial Committee on the Release of Prisoners will – at the behest of the Government – deal with the release of the Palestinian prisoners, the date of which will be determined according to prevailing circumstances, taking into account  the Palestinians’ honoring of their commitments and based on the criteria and guidelines set by Attorney General Meni Mazuz. The Ministerial Committee will approve the list of prisoners to be released.

A committee chaired by Justice Ministry Director-General Moshe Shilo will coordinate work on formulating the list of prisoners who meet the release criteria.  The committee will deliver its recommendations and conclusions to the Ministerial Committee, which is authorized by the Government to approve them.

4. The Cabinet decided to continue budgetary support in 2008 for organizations that encourage immigration to Israel. 

5. The Cabinet approved several changes to the bylaws regarding its operations in order to improve efficiency.

6. The Cabinet appointed a Ministerial Committee on Monitoring the Implementation of Government Decisions. 

7. Pursuant to Article 31(b) of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet decided to transfer Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On’s responsibilities regarding certain bylaws to Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. 

8. The Cabinet instructed Government ministries and organizations to – as much as possible – include the logo marking the State of Israel’s 60 years of independence on official documents. 

9. The Cabinet discussed policies to increase production and reduce demand in the electricity sector. 

10. The Cabinet authorized the preparation of national infrastructures plan to build a natural gas-fired power plant in the Be’er Tuvia area. 

11. The Cabinet discussed the issue of foreign workers in the industrial sector.  

12. The Cabinet discussed the employment of foreign workers in order to boost agricultural exports. 

13. The Cabinet discussed assistance to those seeking asylum in Israel and decided to establish an interministerial team chaired by the Director of the Interior Ministry Population Authority to coordinate dealing with those who have entered Israel illegally, via the Egyptian border.  The team will report to the Cabinet on a monthly basis.

In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of those infiltrating into Israel via the Egyptian border. Prime Minister Olmert convened a discussion on the issue on 1 July 2007 during which he announced  that he had reached an agreement on the issue with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Among the infiltrators are political asylum-seekers, who were in Egypt and crossed the border into Israel, some of whom were recognized in Egypt as refugees as per the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees  and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees or who had begun the process of receiving refugee status in Egypt. Regarding such persons already in Israel, the Interior and Defense Ministries will – in cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees – formulate a list of their names and countries of origin in order to work towards returning them to Egypt or to their countries of origin, to the extent that this is possible and provided that their lives are not in danger.

As part of the international effort on the Darfur issue, Prime Minister Olmert has decided that the State of Israel will absorb a limited number of asylum-seekers who entered Israel illegally via the Egyptian border.  This follows a report by security officials in their regard.

14. The Cabinet decided to extend by three months the current eligibility for rent subsidies by members of the former South Lebanon Army.

15. The Cabinet discussed the issue of increasing independent income for local councils. 

16. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service law (Appointments), the Cabinet approved the appointment of atty. Orit Koren as Deputy Attorney General, effective 7 October 2007.

17. The Cabinet extended the tenure of Tax Authority Director Yehuda Nasrdishi for an additional four months or until the appointment of a new director, whichever comes first. 

18. The Cabinet recommended that President Shimon Peres appoint Prof. Oded Abramski as the Chairman of the National Council for Civilian Research and Development. 

19. The Cabinet appointed Moshe Shalit as Chairman of the Sde Boker College. 

20. The Cabinet appointed the first 15 members to the Academy of the Arabic language.