(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 2 December 2007:

1. Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On briefed ministers on the recent decision by Standard & Poor’s to raise Israel’s credit ratings.

2. National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer briefed ministers on this morning’s earthquake in the Dead Sea area.

3. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak briefed ministers on the recent international meeting in Annapolis. Prime Minister Olmert said:

"This was an important meeting that constituted a milestone in the process between us and the Palestinians. After seven years of stalemate, we are about to re-launch the process to reach a permanent agreement between us and the Palestinians, which will deal with all of the core issues. We aspire to reach such an agreement by the end of 2008.

Ahead of and during the Annapolis meeting, Israel insisted on several principles the goal of which was to create the conditions for the success of the entire process. The most significant condition is that the implementation of the agreement will be conditional on the implementation of the first stage of Roadmap, including the Palestinians’ war on terrorism and the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructures in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Israel has thus made the entire process subject to the most important thing for its citizens – security.  Whoever wants peace, and we very much want it, must assure the security component – even if this is difficult to achieve and even if it requires considerable time.  

It is possible to draw great encouragement from the Annapolis meeting, both from its content and from the considerable participation by Arab countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations. A window was opened at Annapolis, which could – in the end – lead to normalization between Israel and a series of moderate, peace-seeking Arab countries. After Annapolis, I am hopeful that these countries will – in the first stage – open interests sections in Israel and begin to have economic ties with us; I know that several of them are interested in this."

4. The Cabinet decided to take note of the 27 November 2007 joint understanding reached by the sides in Annapolis.

5. Finance Minister Bar-On and Education Minister Yuli Tamir briefed ministers on the continuing secondary school teachers’ strike.

6. The Cabinet discussed the issue of the struggle against trafficking in human beings and approved both a plan to this effect and the awarding of an official citation for those individuals and organizations that take part in the struggle.

In honor of the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, the government decided that beginning in 2008, the State of Israel will award an official citation (not a cash prize) to government, non-government and public bodies, and to private individuals, for their contributions to the struggle against trafficking in human beings, including for prostitution, slavery, forced labor and/or organ donations. The citations will be awarded at an official ceremony that will take place on December 2 annually. Prime Minister’s Office Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women Director Marit Danon commended the decision.

The government also decided to implement national plans to combat trafficking in human beings (including temporary housing solutions, rehabilitative shelters and medical services) and allocated NIS 4.2 million to this end.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert noted that several years, Israel had been included on a list of countries in which trafficking in human beings, especially women, was possible. He noted that the Government has taken aggressive steps that have resulted in Israel’s removal from this list and called for continued action to completely eliminate trafficking in human beings, especially women.

7.  The Cabinet approved the appointment of Moshe Lador as State Prosecutor in place of Eran Shendar, effective 17 December 2007 for a six-year term.

8. The Cabinet discussed the criteria for deciding on the events and activities that will be carried out in the framework of marking 60 years of the independence of the State of Israel.

9. The Cabinet discussed the 18-19 December 2007 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe 2007 Mediterranean Seminar, which is due to be held in Tel Aviv.

10. The Cabinet approved draft amendments to the 2007 Traffic Law.

11. The Cabinet decided to instruct Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Shalom Simhon to work towards providing grants to “continuing enterprises,” as per Article 70c of the 2005 Disengagement Implementation Law, that received agricultural land in accordance with the 8 May 2005 Government decision.

12. The Cabinet further discussed the issue of agricultural land designated for the re-establishment of farms that were relocated from the Gaza Strip and approved various amendments to its 8 May 2005 decision (see #11 above).