(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 9 December 2007:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed – inter alia – improving the education system in Israel and the ongoing secondary school teachers’ strike.  Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On and Education Minister Yuli Tamir updated ministers regarding the strike.

2. Prime Minister Olmert discussed the reports regarding the separation of the children of Ethiopian immigrants from native Israeli children in the education system in a particular Israeli city. He stressed that this was a warning light for Israeli society regarding the mistakes that are being made in the absorption of Ethiopian Jews. He noted that for years Ethiopian immigrants have suffered from serious socio-economic distress, a sense of injustice and integration problems. The Government is currently completing an approximately NIS 1 billion, inter-ministerial five-year plan on the integration of Ethiopian Jews, the goal of which is to assure the smoother absorption and better integration of this important population in Israeli society. The plan will be submitted to the Cabinet next month.

3. Prime Minister Olmert referred to the United Nations Climate Change Conference on global warming currently taking place in Indonesia.

4. Israel Police Inspector-General Dudi Cohen briefed ministers on crime in Israel, including assaults on the elderly.

5. Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ra’anan Dinur and senior Defense Ministry, Construction and Housing Ministry and IDF officials briefed ministers on the situation in Sderot and the area around the Gaza Strip and on the status of reinforcing schools and public structures.

6. Immigrant Absorption Minister Yaakov Edri briefed ministers on the "Returning Home for Israel’s 60th" campaign, the goal of which is to encourage approximately 10,000 Israeli émigrés to return to Israel during the state’s 60th year.

7. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments) and in accordance with Finance Minister Bar-On’s proposal, the Cabinet appointed former Interior Ministry Director-General Ram Belinkov as Finance Ministry Budget Director, effective 1 January 2008, in place of Kobi Haber, who will step down on 31 December 2007.

8. The Cabinet appointed Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Danny Arditi as Acting Director of the National Security Council, effective immediately, pending the appointment of a permanent Director.

9. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments) and in accordance with National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer’s proposal, the Cabinet appointed Dr. Avi Shapira as Chairman of the Earthquake Preparedness Steering Committee, effective 1 January 2008. Dr. Shapira has previously served as Director of the International Seismological Centre in Thatcham, UK.

10. In continuation of its previous decisions, the Cabinet decided to allocate NIS 15 million to the SELA Disengagement Authority for expenses incurred in settling debt claims against the former, now disbanded, local councils.

11. The Cabinet discussed assistance in financing the construction of classrooms in permanent communities for residents who were evacuated in the context of the Disengagement Plan.

12. Pursuant to Article 31 of Basic Law: The Government,  the Cabinet decided to shift certain of the Interior Minister’s responsibilities regarding the Mishor Rotem area to the Construction and Housing Minister.