(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 7 October 2007:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert congratulated Minister Ami Ayalon on his joining the Government and said that he looks forward to cooperating with him fully for the benefit of the government’s social, diplomatic and security goals.

2. GOC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin and ISA Director Yuval Diskin briefed ministers on events in the region and discussed internal and external trends vis-a-vis regional states and the Palestinians.

3. Prime Minister Olmert briefed ministers on diplomatic issues related to the contacts with the Palestinian leadership. He said that the government was committed – in its policy guidelines – to the process with the Palestinians in order to bring about peace and added that the government will be active to this end in the coming weeks and months. The Prime Minister noted that he had hosted Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas last week and said that they had agreed that teams from both sides would begin discussions in an effort to formulate a joint declaration ahead of the international meeting to be held this autumn in the US city of Annapolis, MD.

Prime Minister Olmert said: "My talks with Abu Mazen are being held in a good atmosphere and as of now they have created the level of personal trust that is so necessary to the process. Thus we have reached agreement on the manner in which the process is to be conducted in the coming weeks. We both agree that the Annapolis conference is not an objective but an important and significant station on the way to achieving peace. Therefore, it is proper that both sides attend this important meeting equipped with a joint declaration that will deal with the future of the process and with basic understandings regarding its continuation. We have also agreed that any future settlement with Palestinians will be subject to the sequence specified in the Roadmap. We see eye-to-eye on the need to fight extremist terrorism in order to assure that process will move forward. The aforesaid teams will begin work this week even as PA President Abbas and myself continue our talks in order to bridge the gaps between the sides."

4. Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski and Minister Yitzhak Herzog, who is responsible for Diaspora affairs, briefed ministers on the situation of the Jewish People in the Diaspora and discussed cooperation between the Government and the Jewish Agency vis-a-vis immigrant absorption.