(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, 16 December 2007:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the following remarks: “The conference of donor countries will convene tomorrow in Paris and will deal in strengthening the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of the international effort to establish its economic, civil, institutional and administrative base in order to allow it to function as a developing entity ahead of statehood, that is capable of properly running its own affairs.  Of course, the main issue from the State of Israel’s point-of-view in the end is the PA’s ability to properly deal with the security issue, defeat the terrorist organizations and assure that there will be no terrorism directed at Israel.

"Israel will participate in this meeting.  Naturally, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who will present the Israeli position and participate in the discussions, will lead the Israeli delegation.  We certainly support the strengthening of the PA and the appropriate international mobilization in order to bring about an improvement of the Palestinian residents’ daily lives, especially by upgrading their own economic infrastructure that will not be dependent on the State of Israel once the appropriate administrative institutions are established.  As I have said, this includes – first and foremost – proper law-enforcement organizations and systematic action against the terrorist organizations.

"We are cooperating with the International Quartet Envoy, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.  We will continue to cooperate with him and will help him in strengthening projects on the agenda.

"Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai will leave today for Uruguay in order to sign a free trade agreement with the MERCOSUR countries.  I remind everyone that Israel already has free trade agreements with the NAFTA member countries.”

Prime Minister Olmert praised Minister Yishai, his Ministry’s Foreign Trade Administration and the Foreign Ministry over the successful negotiations with MERCOSUR.  He also referred to the recent secondary school teachers’ strike.

2. The Cabinet discussed the issue of compensation for lower income strata for the increase in bread prices and decided to rescind its 11 November 2007 decision. 

3. The Cabinet approved the transfer – in 2008 – of NIS 7,955,000 in assistance to various regional councils that absorbed Gaza Strip and northern Samaria evacuees:

Name of Regional Council      Allocation (in thousands of NIS)
Eshkol                                                   465
Bnei Shimon                                        435
Ashkelon Coast                                3,565
Lachish                                                 550
Nahal Sorek                                      2,170
Sapir                                                     770
TOTAL:                                              7,955

4. The Cabinet discussed boosting enforcement efforts against unauthorized (pirate) radio stations. 

5. The Cabinet appointed three new members to the Israel Lands Authority Council. 

6-7. The Cabinet approved the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and Law Enforcement’s 10 December 2007 decision regarding certain amendments to income tax regulations. 

8. Pursuant to the Ministerial Committee on the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem’s 28 October 2007 decision, the Cabinet approved Archbishop Theofilos III as Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem in place of Irineos I, as per the 22 August 2005 decision of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.