The Cabinet today discussed a series of measures to financially strengthen Jerusalem on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the city’s reunification.

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 13 May 2007:

1. The Cabinet met at the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation in Jerusalem in honor of the 40th anniversary of the reunification of the city. Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, Jewish Agency Chairman Ze’ev Bielski, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Vice-Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein attended the meeting.

Prime Minister Olmert noted that Jerusalem Affairs Minister Yaacov Edery has been active on the Government’s behalf regarding the 40th anniversary celebrations.

Prime Minister Olmert said: “We are meeting here at the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation for two reasons. One, it was the late former Prime Minister Menachem Begin who advanced Basic Law: Jerusalem – Capital of Israel, which expresses Jerusalem’s special place for us as a state and a society. Two, from here we have a moving view of all parts of the united city, both historical and new.”

The chairmen of the Carmel Coast, Ramat Hanegev and Nahal Sorek regional councils, along with children from the council areas, greeted the Cabinet and Jerusalem ahead of Jerusalem Day.

Mayor Lupoliansky briefed ministers on efforts and plans to strengthen the city in the socio-economic field.

2. The Cabinet authorized the Sapir Highway Co., Inc. to act on the State’s behalf regarding the project to construct an express lane at the entrance to Tel Aviv.

3. The Cabinet discussed the plan to encourage economic growth in Jerusalem and decided, in continuation of its decision of 6 June 2005 on the plan to encourage economic growth in the city:

*  NIS 5 million per annum will be added to the plan for 2008-2012 so that the plan’s budget during these years will be NIS 40 million per annum;

* The 2008 supplement will be devoted to implementing the project to rehabilitate the Atarot Industrial Area.

4. The Cabinet approved a plan to transfer Government units to Jerusalem.

5. The Cabinet noted the Yad Ben Zvi Institute announcement on the establishment of a central school for Jerusalem studies. The school will serve as a state body and educational institution that will be a leading body regarding Jerusalem studies, will operate on the highest professional level and will offer coordination, guidance and assistance to all bodies dealing with the issue. The institute will produce educational materials and programs, encourage research and cooperate with other bodies in the field of Jerusalem studies.

6. The Cabinet approved construction of the first stage of a new courts complex in Jerusalem. The construction of a courts complex will begin with the construction of a new Jerusalem Magistrates Court in the city center. This will be a significant step in a comprehensive program to allocate greater resources to the judicial system in order to assist it in dealing with an increased workload, shortening waiting times and strengthening its image.  Financing will be from both Government and external sources.

7. The Cabinet discussed cancellation of the employer’s tax in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry intend to enact an across-the-board cancellation of employer’s tax, which is imposed on salaries paid by non-profit organizations (including social welfare organizations, educational and cultural institutions, hospitals and local councils). It is estimated that the aforesaid organizations will enjoy approximately NIS 320 million in benefits.

8. The Cabinet discussed the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants in the civil service and decided as follows:

* Pursuant to Article 15A of the 1959 Civil Service Law, the Finance Ministry Budget Division and the Civil Service Commission will, in 2007, allocate 15 positions in Government ministries for qualified candidates from the Ethiopian community only.

Finance Ministry Budget Division, Civil Service Commission and Immigrant Absorption Ministry representatives will reassess the plan at the end of
2007 and formulate solutions for the continued employment of members of the Ethiopian community in the civil service.

* Government ministries will – for two years – give hiring and advancement preferences to qualified candidates from the Ethiopian community.

The great challenge of integrating members of the Ethiopian community into Israeli society requires their integration into the civil service as well. This is possible only by allocating positions solely to members of this community.

9. The Cabinet discussed various issues regarding the protection of the Dead Sea beaches.